Many scientists agree: we’ve already cured HIV in one man, albeit under very unique circumstances. The “Berlin patient,” as he’s known in the media, went to Germany in 2008 for treatment of leukemia; he was also HIV positive but had been on anti-retroviral treatment for four years, which left the virus undetectable in his blood. As POZ magazine editor Regan Hofmann explains in the video below, German oncologist Gero Hütter treated his patient’s cancerous white blood cells with radiation and then transplanted genetically modified stem cells that were immune to HIV. Since then, the Berlin patient has remained healthy and cancer-free, and amazingly the virus has remained undetectable for several years without any treatment.
This is only a functional cure; the virus could still be hiding in reservoirs in the body, as many scientists and doctors are quick to point out. But the fact that his body has suppressed the disease for so long is amazing and gives hope that gene therapy could cure HIV in others without highly toxic cancer treatment.