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HIV patient “cured” from using medication alone

But experts warn to approach the development with caution

By Thomas Stichbury

There appears to have been a breakthrough in the fight against HIV after a man was “cured” of the virus from using medication alone.

The patient in São Paulo reportedly had no evidence of HIV after more than 15 months off his antiretrovirals, according to a story published on aidsmap.

On Tuesday, a new and potentially exciting study was presented at the 23rd International Aids Conference (Aids 2020 Virtual).

As part of a clinical trial, the 35-year-old individual – who was diagnosed with HIV eight years ago – had two additional antiretrovirals, Tivicay and Celsentri, added to his standard three-drug regimen.

The medial team – led by Dr Ricardo Diaz, of the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and Dr Andrea Savarino, of the Italian Institute of Health in Rome – also gave him nicotinamide, typically used to treat skin cancer.

It is said to be the first time that a person has been “cured” from a functional treatment, as opposed to an invasive medical procedure.

However, experts added that four other people treated with the same intensified regime did not maintain viral suppression.

Similarly, extensive testing for traces of HIV at various sites in the man’s body are still to be carried out.

Those living with HIV have been advised against taking nicotinamide in a non-medical setting.

“I would certainly encourage people to not jump on this,” said Dr Steven Deeks, of the University of California. “I would not encourage anyone to run out to the local health food store and get this drug, and don’t stop taking antiretrovirals.”

Three men previously cured of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown, Adam Castillejo and an unnamed German, were cancer patients who needed bone marrow transplants to replace their immune-system cells with non-cancerous ones.