Closer to a Cure for HIV
June 23, 2011
In 2007, HIV-positive Timothy Ray Brown had a relapse of leukemia, which put his life at risk. In an effort to combat the leukemia, his doctor suggested a radical treatment: performing a bone marrow transplant. Doctors chose bone marrow from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that makes him HIV resistant. Though doctors were unsure what effect the bone marrow transplant would have, Brown was amazingly cured, not only of his leukemia, but also of his HIV. Though this is an enormous step forward in HIV research, it is not a cure.
Brown’s doctors have released statements, saying that it is not possible to replicate Brown’s treatment on a mass scale. Bone marrow transplants are extremely expensive to perform and highly dangerous. And in order to recreate the treatment, matching donors would need to be found for each person needing treatment—and potential donors consist of a very small percentage of the population.
Brown’s cure does not mean that a cure for HIV has been discovered, but it means that science is closer to putting an end to the virus. And that is excellent news.
—Taylor McCabe, 18, Contributor