Two people in Saudi Arabia have been declared “cured” of HIV after the otherwise incurable virus disappeared from their bodies, according to a report.
Health officials say the cases are among the most improbable HIV victories ever recorded and almost certainly not a cure for the virus, which spreads through blood and semen. Doctors at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine say the two patients with HIV-related Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDs, never received treatments that would have maintained the spread of the virus. But the practice of “deep plasma” thawing at an HIV treatment facility, has yielded “significant efficacy” in people whose HIV is suppressed or killed off, according to the report.
A deep plasma thaw has been used for other conditions such as gout, but the latest study is the first time the procedure has been used for the virus.
“While no one would wish illness or death on anyone, we are thrilled for these individuals that this treatment would save their lives,” said Dr. Eyad Badawi, lead author of the paper and director of the Johns Hopkins AIDs Center. “The other patients with HIV are still getting care and treatment, despite not needing it.”
In the first case, the patient — who had been in remission for years — had 12 instances of the virus before a deep plasma thaw, including five previously untreated, as well as those from the month before and month after treatment.
The second patient did not receive deep plasma thawing, but his HIV level was reduced almost to zero.