ScienceSQ

A Person’s Immune System Fought HIV — And Won

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It seems that some people can cure themselves of HIV infections.

So far, in two different cases, people infected with HIV have had levels of the virus actually dropped, once they had bone marrow transplants.

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Once they had this procedure, they never had HIV infection back. Now, it seems that a person may have cleared functional HIV with no outside help.

Still, no one can tell for sure that intact virus isn’t hiding in a cell, but so far, no such claims were made. The finding suggests that some people have a different immune system that can get the upper hand, virtually eliminating the pernicious and persistent virus.

A second person, EC1, had just one functional copy of HIV in more than 1 billion blood cells analyzed. And that copy of HIV was stuck in what is essentially a genetic supermax prison.

That genetic lockup could easily be the key to being able to control the virus naturally.

Those two people are part of a small and infrequent group of people known as elite controllers. This means that they can maintain very low or undetectable levels of HIV without antiretroviral drugs.

Plus, these people have no symptoms or any clear signs of damage from the virus. It’s on researchers to discover how exactly the immune system helps them handle the virus.

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