Yesterday, National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/Aids in Kenya executive director, Nelson Otwoma, said even if the cure for the killer disease is yet to be found, it is encouraging news that the various experiments across the globe are eventually bearing fruit. This new success however has shown that it may work in some patients.
Being cured would mean getting rid of the virus forever; remission would mean it is there, but under control for the time being.
Just yesterday, however, physicians who specialize in AIDS and HIV managed to get a piece of research published in Nature, a popular journal in which world-leading research is often published, that indicated a man in London, England, the United Kingdom, had been completely cured of HIV.
The patient has not been identified. It's unclear why he waited that long.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) announced this week that the HIV-positive man referred to as "London Patient" has remained in HIV remission off antiretroviral therapy (ART), 19 months after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a CCR5 negative donor for Hodgkin's lymphoma.
In a rare occurrence, a man from London who was diagnosed with HIV has recovered. About 1 p.c of individuals descended from northern Europeans have inherited the mutation from each mother and father and are proof against most HIV. Gupta described this as a condition in which donor immune cells attack the recipient's immune cells.
That was "an improbable event", said Gupta. He said it was an "improbable event" and "has not been observed more frequently".
The transplant changed the man's immune system, giving him the donor's mutation and HIV resistance.
Doctors who reported the case said it is still too early to say with certainty that the man has definitely been cured of HIV, but the patient has been in remission from the virus 18 months after he discontinued his antiretroviral therapy.
Marking World AIDS Day in November, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said that the world stood at a "critical juncture", and the direction of the response to the on-going epidemic, would determine whether or not the world could end AIDS by 2030, in line with the UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals.
There are also a number of other HIV-positive patients who have had bone marrow transplants, including two patients who haven't yet come off their antiviral medications.
That didn't happen with the London patient. There's nonetheless no hint of the virus after 18 months off the medicine.
People who have two mutated copies of CCR5 are resistant to most HIV-1 virus strains, frustrating the virus' attempts to enter host cells.
"However, it also shows how far away we are from that point", he added saying it emphasized "the absolute importance of continuing to focus HIV prevention and treatment efforts".
"At the moment the only way to treat HIV is with medications that suppress the virus, which people need to take for their entire lives, posing a particular challenge in developing countries", Gupta said in a statement. "We are being cautious" to call it remission for now, he said.