Married gay man about to be ‘cured' of HIV and cancer in stunning breakthrough for medical science

Monday, February 26, 2024
 – An American man is about to be declared cured of HIV and blood cancer.

Paul Edmonds, 68, from California who made international headlines in 2023 when he shared his story, still has no traces of both conditions five years after being given a transplant of cells that rid his body of both diseases. Edmonds has a husband.

In a new article by the medical team who treated him, doctors said he was officially cured of cancer and two years away from being declared cured of HIV.

Edmonds' medical journey began when he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, at a time when the virus killed a lot of gay men.

Despite watching so many of his friends die of the infection, he didn't die, and was living with his husband until a devastating leukemia diagnosis in 2018 almost dashed his hopes of living a long life with his partner.

He was treated for the cancer with stem cell therapy, which involves replacing stem cells damaged by chemotherapy with healthy ones from a donor, when doctors spotted a unique opportunity: to find a donor with a HIV-resistant genetic mutation.

Doctors wanted to know if they could replicate the success of previous patients who had been reportedly cured of HIV and cancer this way.

According to the City of Hope clinic in California, Edmonds is one of only five to beat both diseases and the oldest person to do so.

'I am extremely grateful... I can't thank them enough,' Mr Edmonds said of his doctors at City of Hope clinic in California.

The stem cell transplant is the final segment of treatment for blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.

It is given when the blood-forming stem cells in a patient's bone marrow have been killed off by radiation or chemotherapy.

In November 2018, Mr Edmonds started chemotherapy. He needed three rounds to reach remission, which was achieved in mid-January 2019.

The next month he received stem cells from his donor.

The stem cells he was given had two copies of a rare genetic mutation called CCR5 delta-3, which makes people resistant to HIV. Only one to two percent of the population have this mutation.

HIV uses the receptor CCR5 to get into and assault the immune system, but the CCR5 mutation stops the virus from entering this way.

An estimated 36.3 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic in 1981. 

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