Sunday, June 10, 2012

Is The Berlin Patient Reinfected with HIV?- New data to interpret with caution


By on 11:22 PM



I have previously reported about Timothy Brown, aka "The Berlin Patient", the man who was cured of HIV after going through chemotherapy, radiation and two bone marrow transplants donated by a man genetically resistant to HIV (more articles here: articles about Timothy Brown )
Concerning data was presented by Dr Steven Yukl et al  in a talk intitled "Challenges inherent in detecting HIV persistence during potentially curative interventions" at the International Workshop on HIV & Hepatitis Virus Drug Resistance and Curative Strategies held at Sitges, Spain on June 5-9, 2012.
In this presentation, it was discussed that very small amount of proviral DNA (not fully formed virus) had been detected in rectal mucosa tissue obtained from Timothy Brown. This proviral DNA did not resemble that of the original HIV virus that Timothy had before he got cured. But caution about these results quickly emerged as activists in an HIV cure working group in which I am a member discussed the implications of making quick conclusions out of these data.  Unfortunately, controversy has now started.
Richard Jeffreys from Treatment Action Group wrote a great piece as a response to a blog post made by Alain Lafeuillade, who runs the biannual HIV Persistence Workshop. Lafeuillade had  hinted about the fact that Timothy Brown may have been reinfected with HIV. Lafeuillade's press release
It is important that the media understands that these new data do not conclude that Timothy has been reinfected so that no misleading news are spread before more discussions on this matter take place. Click here to read Richard Jeffrey's responseI 


John Cohen, a well known writer that follows HIV research, reported comments about the abstract with some more clarifications: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2012/06/evidence-that-man-cured-of-hiv.html


NPR did a very good show on this controversy: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/06/13/154869103/traces-of-virus-in-man-cured-of-hiv-trigger-scientific-debate?ps=sh_sthdl


Lastly, Abbie Smith from Science Blogs expressed her views in clear ways about this unnecessary controversy: http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2012/06/14/bone-marrow-transplants-as-a-cure-for-aids-iv/

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