Talking about miracles, a 30-year-old lady from Argentina, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2013, has become the second documented case of her immune system “naturally” curing her of the infection.
It wasn’t long ago that the first documented case was discovered. Loreen Willenberg of California, who is 66 years old, became the first person to be cured of HIV without the need for medications or surgery just last August. Some people’s bodies, according to the researchers, are simply capable of “block[ing] and lock[ing]” away from the HIV-infected section of the DNA.
Prior to these events, medical research had successfully cured HIV twice. First, in the 1990s, there was the “Berlin Patient,” who was given a mixture of medications to stop HIV from multiplying in his body and slowing disease progression. Second, in 2019, there was the “London Patient,” who received two bone marrow transplants as well as severe chemotherapy and radiation.
The current example, on the other hand, did not entail medicines or a bone marrow transplant, both of which are described as “complicated and risky,” not to mention costly.
“I like it when I’m in good shape… My family is in good health. I don’t have to take any medications, and I go about my life as if nothing has happened. This is already a privilege,” the 30-year-old remarked, referring to her body’s ability to heal itself.
To hide her identity, she has been nicknamed “Esperanza Patient” after the town where she was born in Argentina. In case you’re wondering, “esperanza” means “hope” in English. And the researchers believe that these two cases can give hope to the almost 40 million people who are infected with the virus around the world.
“This gives us hope that the human immune system is powerful enough to control HIV and eliminate all the functional virus… Time will tell, but we believe she has reached a sterilizing cure… To bring what we learn from these patients to a broader patient population is our ultimate goal,” Xu Yu, an immunologist at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, who co-authored a report on the “Esperanza Patient,” said in a statement.
For the unversed, HIV is a retrovirus that replicates by inserting itself into the human genome and deceiving the immune system. It targets the immune system and makes it ineffective, drawing a slew of other illnesses in the process.
Accidental death or suicide, as well as other conditions such as lung disease, are the major causes of mortality among HIV patients who have not yet developed AIDS (but not cancer).