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First Woman Reported Cured of HIV After Stem Cell Transplant

The study suggests that an important element to the success is the transplantation of HIV-resistant cells.
A nurse (L) hands out a red ribbon to a woman, to mark World Aids Day, at the entrance of Emilio Ribas Hospital, in Sao Paulo December 1, 2014. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
A nurse (L) hands out a red ribbon to a woman, to mark World Aids Day, at the entrance of Emilio Ribas Hospital, in Sao Paulo December 1, 2014. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

A U.S. patient with leukemia has become the first woman and the third person to date to be cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor who was naturally resistant to the virus that causes AIDS, researchers reported on Tuesday.

The case of a middle-aged woman of mixed race, presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunisitic Infections in Denver, is also the first involving umbilical cord blood, a newer approach that may make the treatment available to more people.

Since receiving the cord blood to treat her acute myeloid leukemia – a cancer that starts in blood-forming cells in the bone marrow – the woman has been in remission and free of the virus for 14 months, without the need for potent HIV treatments known as antiretroviral therapy.

The two prior cases occurred in males – one white and one Latino – who had received adult stem cells, which are more frequently used in bone marrow transplants.

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