13-year-old HIV positive ‘Pune Patient’ cured

Namrata Devikar
Friday, 14 February 2020

Viewed as a potential permanent cure for HIV positive patients, the Berlin Patient in 2007 was cured for HIV after a stem cell transplant. In 2009, there were two patients who, as per doctors, were reported to have zero HIV viral load after the bone marrow transplant.

PUNE: After the Berlin Patient and the London Patient, a 13-year-old Pune Patient has come forth who, after getting treated for thalassemia major has shown zero viral load for human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) for the last six years. This case was published in the Hematology and Transfusion International Journal on February 6 this year. 

Viewed as a potential permanent cure for HIV positive patients, the Berlin Patient in 2007 was cured for HIV after a stem cell transplant. In 2009, there were two patients who, as per doctors, were reported to have zero HIV viral load after the bone marrow transplant. However, in 2013, doctors again noted that the virus had rebounded. A third patient in 2019, termed as London Patient, wherein a bone marrow transplant was conducted, was cured of HIV. The Berlin and London Patients are doing well and have zero HIV viral load. 

Speaking about the Pune Patient, city-based haematologist Dr Vijay Ramanan, who treated the girl at Ruby Hall Clinic, said that HIV was transmitted from her mother. “The girl was a thalassemia major since she was eight months old and needed a blood transfusion every 28 days. Later, she needed a blood transfusion every 18 days. Before the transplant, she received 200 blood transfusions. She did not have a matched related or unrelated donor so a haploidentical donor, her mother, was used as a donor. She underwent the transplant in 2013,” he said. 

He said that before the transplant, she tested positive for HIV. After detection, the patient was on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and had a high viral load. “During the second month after the first transplant, she had graft rejection. A second transplant was done and she responded well. Since the second transplant, her HIV viral load has been undetectable. The HIV infected T Lymphocytes were probably killed by conditioning chemotherapy and donor immune cells. She is intermittently taking ART medications and her recent viral load was undetectable. She is pursuing studies and leading a normal life,” he said.

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