Have you ever heard of the "Dusseldorf patient"? The patient, so named to protect his privacy, was presented in 2019 by a research team who had illustrated his HIV treatment path. Today, after years of monitoring, there is confirmation of his recovery: he is the fifth person in the world to have defeated the virus and the disease connected to it. A hope for everyone, which gradually becomes a certainty.
There is no more
Doctor Bjorn-Erik Ole Jensen presented the details of the case in a publication in "Nature Medicine" (I link it to you here). The article fully explains why it is a real healing, and not simply a long-term remission.
In fact, after the 2019 press conference, the "Dusseldorf patient" stopped all therapy: nevertheless, four years later there is no sign of the presence of viruses in his body.
A more than substantial difference. HIV is a virus which, once contracted, can last for life, as the virus is not completely eliminated from the body. Fortunately, with modern medications, people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives. These medicines work to control the replication of the virus, preventing damage to the immune system and keeping the level of virus in the blood low. In this way, people with HIV can prevent the development of AIDS and live a practically normal life.
When is healing for everyone?
I'm not going around it: this is the question that arises to everyone, with legitimate (but relative, after more than 30 years) "impatience". Even more legitimate if one considers that the path of complete recovery from HIV now seems to have found a high road with stem cell transplantation: the treatment which, in various forms, was subjected to all 5 patients who recovered during those years.
There is still work to be done, however: stem cell transplantation is a risky procedure, which at the moment cannot be offered to all patients. "It's amazing how difficult it was this battle against HIV, but every time a new patient is treated we get a little closer to the finish line," explains Dr Todd Ellerin, an infectious disease expert at South Shore Health.
It's true: each new healing offers much more valuable information to extend this cure to everyone. And this auspicious number 5 is just what a person's open hand can show while greeting.
Maybe to say goodbye to a monster that has tormented her for too long.