It was announced at the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne that, after receiving bone marrow transplants to treat cancer, two Australian HIV patients are seemingly HIV-free. Both men, however, remain on antiretroviral therapy as a precaution. The case was presented to conference by Kirby Institute director David Cooper (pictured).
After hearing of the 'Boston patients' last year, Cooper looked to see whether similar transplants had ocurred in people with HIV at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney. Two patients were found. Resisting the word ‘cured’, Cooper said: “These patients are very precious examples to help us understand how we might manipulate the immune system to drive the reservoir down to these extraordinary low levels.
"There is something about bone-marrow transplantation in people with HIV that has an anti-HIV reservoir effect, such that the reservoirs go down to very low levels. If we can understand what that is and how that happens, it will really accelerate the field of cure research."