A patient in London has become only the second person ever to have been cleared of the HIV virus.
When you look back throughout history, it is fascinating to see that illnesses and diseases that barely register with us anymore used to be life-threatening. In fact, some widespread diseases have been eradicated completely. However, despite the continued advances of modern medicine, there are still diseases that we can't get a hold on, and also new epidemics that have arrived to replace the old ones.
In the 1980s, that new epidemic was HIV. A sexually transmitted disease that attacks the immune system of those infected. Once it successfully does that, HIV becomes Aids and it is sadly only a matter of time before it gets the better of its carrier. However, you may have noticed that we hear less and less about HIV in the present day. That's because thanks to medical advancements, it is now a virus that can be relatively controlled.
In fact, a recent breakthrough is a promising sign that we are close to finding a cure for the complicated virus. This week, The Guardian reported that a man in London was cleared of HIV. The unnamed patient is only the second person to have ever been cleared of HIV and the first since 2007. A bone-marrow transplant from a virus resistant donor appears to be what rid the patient of the virus.
Doctors have to tread extremely carefully when it comes to the wording of this breakthrough. HIV biologist Ravindra Gupta described the patient as being "functionally cured" and also used the term remission, one often reserved for describing cancer patients. It has been three years since the patient received the transplant, and highly sensitive tests are still unable to find any trace of the infection.
Although we don't hear as much about HIV and Aids as we used to in the past, it is estimated that around 37 million people are infected with it worldwide. Since its discovery in the 1980s, the virus has claimed 35 million lives. If doctors can find out how to utilize the bone marrow of those resistant to the virus on a larger scale, maybe HIV will soon be another disease that becomes a part of history and is easily treatable.