(CNN)Researchers say they have found a second patient whose body seemingly had rid itself of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS -- supporting hope that it may be possible someday to find a way to cure more people of the virus.
A second HIV patient may have been 'cured' of infection without stem cell treatment, in extremely rare case
The patient has received no regular treatment for her infection but is a rare "elite controller" of the virus who, eight years after she was first diagnosed, shows no signs of active infection and shows no signs of intact virus in her body, researchers reported Monday. This has only been reported once before.
The international team of scientists reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine that the patient, originally from the city of Esperanza, Argentina, showed no evidence of intact HIV in large numbers of her cells, suggesting that she may have naturally achieved what they describe as a "sterilizing cure" of HIV infection.
The 30-year-old woman in the new study is only the second patient who has been described as achieving this sterilizing cure without help from stem cell transplantation or other treatment. The other patient who has been described as achieving this was a 67-year-old woman named Loreen Willenberg.
"A sterilizing cure for HIV has previously only been observed in two patients who received a highly toxic bone marrow transplant. Our study shows that such a cure can also be reached during natural infection -- in the absence of bone marrow transplants (or any type of treatment at all)," Dr. Xu Yu, of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard, who was an author of the study, wrote in an email to CNN on Monday.
"Examples of such a cure that develops naturally suggest that current efforts to find a cure for HIV infection are not elusive, and that the prospects of getting to an 'AIDS-free generation' may ultimately be successful," Yu wrote.
Yu, Dr. Natalia Laufer in Argentina, and their colleagues analyzed blood samples collected from the 30-year-old HIV patient between 2017 and 2020. She had a baby in March 2020, allowing scientists to collect placental tissue, as well.