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posted Friday, March 13, 2020 - Volume 48 Issue 11
Second person to be cured of HIV revealed
Section One
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Second person to be cured of HIV revealed

"London Patient" is named Adam Castillejo

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The second person to be cured of HIV revealed his name on March 9. Formerly identified only as "the London Patient," Adam Castillejo said he was going public "to be a beacon of hope for people who have HIV or cancer or who have gone through a transplant."

He told the New York Times he first considered revealing his identity in November but put it off for several months to prepare himself physically and mentally.

"I don't want people to think, 'Oh, you've been chosen,'" Castillejo said. "No, it just happened. I was in the right place, probably at the right time, when it happened. We're here today - you never, never know."

Castillejo was born in Caracas, Venezuela, but has lived in London for the past 20 years. He was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 2003.

In 2011 he was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma, which led his doctors to treat the cancer with a bone-marrow transplant. As it turned out, the donor had a genetic mutation that blocked HIV from bonding with his cells. This cleared Castillejo of the virus.

It is now a year after British doctors first announced he was clear of the virus and he still remains free of HIV.

Lead researcher Professor Ravindra Kumar Gupta, from the University of Cambridge, told BBC News that "this represents HIV cure with almost certainty. We have now had two and a half years with anti-retroviral-free remission.

"Our findings show that the success of stem-cell transplantation as a cure for HIV, first reported nine years ago in the Berlin Patient, can be replicated."

The Berlin Patient, Timothy Brown, was the first person to experience successful HIV remission. He was cured of HIV infection through a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and genetically engineered stem cells in 2010.

Gupta cautioned that the procedure by which Castillejo was cured should not be regarded as a generally applicable "cure" for HIV.

"It is important to note that this curative treatment is high-risk and only used as a last resort for patients with HIV who also have life-threatening hematological malignancies," he said.

"Therefore, this is not a treatment that would be offered widely to patients with HIV who are on successful antiretroviral treatment."

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