Timothy Ray Brown through the use of stem cell treatment became the first person cured of the deadly disease in Germany 12 years ago. While a second patient also through the same method has been cured in London, England has become the 2nd person to be delivered from the ravage disease.
When the battle against AIDS/HIV began three decades ago, stem cell research was in its infancy. Scientists knew little about how to harness its potential, or even whether it might be useful in treating HIV. The first cases of AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, were reported in 1981. A 1982 New England Journal of Medicine article highlighted doctors’ concerns about a mysterious, unknown immune deficiency that had taken the lives of several young gay men. Since then, the World Health Organization estimates about 35 million people have died of HIV infection.
AIDS/HIV is not the death sentence it once was, thanks to daily medications. Antiretroviral drugs, called ARTs or ARVs, are taken by many HIV patients. ARVs slow but cannot halt the progression of infection. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ARVs are the reason the annual number of HIV-related deaths has decreased in the U.S. since the 1990s. Stem cell advances to potentially eradicate HIV are crucial. According the Kaiser Foundation’s analyses of U.S. Funding for HIV/AIDS data, $32 billion was spent during fiscal year 2017, and individual states spend millions. California alone spends about $1.8 billion annually, and ranks second in the nation in cases of HIV, with more than 170,000 cases.
Watch a quick video from the Guardian on the stem cell success