'Cured' HIV Patients Get Some Bad News

Disease reappears after promising bone marrow treatment

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 6, 2013 4:50 PM CST

(Newser) – The world let up a tentative cheer this summer when Boston researchers revealed that they'd seemingly eradicated HIV in two patients following risky bone marrow transplants. But it turns out the virus was more resilient than they'd thought. The virus has returned in both patients, the researchers revealed at a conference yesterday, according to the Boston Globe. The findings are only preliminary, but "we felt it would be scientifically unfair to not let people know how things are going, especially for potential patients," lead scientist Timothy Henrich said.

The virus first reared its head in a blood sample taken from one of the patients in August. He went back on his medication, but the other patient elected not to—until he, too, got the bad news in November, after eight months of apparent health. Still, researchers believe they've gained valuable insight from the study. "This suggests that we need to look deeper, or we need to be looking in other tissues," Henrich said. The "liver, gut, or brain" could all be harboring the virus.

Researcher Timothy Henrich, of the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, speaks at the International AIDS Society Conference 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 3, 2013.
Researcher Timothy Henrich, of the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, speaks at the International AIDS Society Conference 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 3, 2013.   (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
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