The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a pathogen so wily and protean that researchers rarely talk about curing infected patients, focusing instead on treatment and prevention. But in an announcement that caused a flutter of excitement and a wave of prudent skepticism, Berlin-based hematologist Gero Huetter claimed on Thursday that he has cured an HIV infection in a 42-year-old man through a bone-marrow transplant.
The patient, a U.S. citizen living in Germany, was suffering from advanced leukemia and HIV two years ago when Huetter treated the cancer with a bone-marrow transplant at Berlin's Charité hospital. As a side experiment, he inserted the bone marrow of a donor naturally resistant to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. (Researchers have long known that about 1% of Europeans carry a genetic mutation that makes their cells resistant to HIV infection.) Bone marrow produces the cells that HIV attacks. So, the thinking went, inserting marrow that produces HIV-resistant cells might endow the patient with a means to repel the infection. Twenty months after the transplant, Huetter says, the man shows no signs of carrying the virus. ~ TIME, 13 Nov 2008
While I acknowledge that this might really be a cure for AIDS, it is not for everyone who is infected with the deadly virus.
This cure is for certain patients only. It is expensive, and I believe not every AIDS patient is prepared to undergo preparations needed for a bone marrow transplant. Also, the problem with donor compatibility will always be there.