Two Australian men - previously tested positive for HIV - are said to have been cured, after they received a treatment that is generally used for cancer patients.
Doctors have found that after treating them with bone-marrow therapy on stem cells, the HIV virus have gone down to almost undetectable levels. Stem cells are the cells whose main purpose is to replicate themselves.
The two patients are currently on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), according to officials at the Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney.
The team got this idea from last year's conference on HIV-AIDS, set up by the International AIDS Society (IAS) in Kuala Lumpur, where some American scientists had made a presentation, in which they revealed that the deadly virus had subsided in a couple of patients, who were given stem-cell transplants. These patients, when tested later, were found to be HIV negative.
"We went back and looked whether we had transplanted [on] any HIV-positive patients, and found these two," David Cooper, who leads the research team and is also the Director of Kirby Institute, told The Health Site.
The team of researchers scrutinized the records of St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney. St Vincent's is one of Australia's largest bone-marrow transplant centres.
However, Cooper also stressed that even though the two men have been found to be HIV-negative, the research is far from over. He said that, till now, the only thing that has actually been proved is that performing a bone-marrow transplant in people who have HIV would have some kind of a negative effect on the virus. Due to this effect, the virus tends to subside.
Cooper believes that this effect cannot be counted as a cure for HIV patients. He says that there is still a chance that his patients may slip into relapse. Due to these risks, and the unknown effects, which the bone-marrow transplant seems to have on the virus, the scientists are continuing their research on this phenomenon, and not calling this a cure for HIV-AIDS.
A girl in the US, who was thought to have been cured of HIV, suffered a relapse, and was tested HIV-positive earlier this month. The girl was given intensive drug treatment, after which the HIV was believed to have gone into remission. However, the virus re-surfaced later, destroying all hopes that a cure has finally been found for the disease.