Paul Sax, MD, Reacts to News of the London Patient

Paul Sax, MD, shares his take on news of the second person ever achieving long-term HIV remission.

Segment Description: Paul Sax, MD, clinical director in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital, shares his take on news of the second person ever achieving long-term HIV remission.

Interview transcript: (modified slightly for readability)

Contagion®: News of the London patient broke Monday night. What is your reaction to the news that a second person has achieved long-term HIV remission? Is it too early to call this a cure?

Paul Sax, MD: "Well I do think it's appropriate that in a person who has this long-term remission from HIV that we not prematurely call it a cure. We have been fooled with certain individuals previously who had been off their treatment for many months and yet ultimately relapsed. Now, this person has been off treatment for well over a year now and he hasn't relapsed and, furthermore, he received the same treatment of the first cure, which is that he required a stem cell or bone marrow transplant—they mean pretty much the same thing—for treatment of underlying hematologic malignancy and received cells that were CCR5 negative and these CCR5 negative cells cannot be infected by viruses that use the CCR5 receptor to enter the cell. So there were a lot of similarities between this case and the person who has been cured previously. There's a lot of reason for optimism. However, this is by no means a scalable intervention for millions of people who have HIV, but it does show us, though, is that that first case was not just a one-off, that there are potentially other ways of achieving the same thing.

The study, “Sustained HIV-1 Remission Following Homozygous CCR5 Delta32 Allogenic HSCT,” was presented on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, at the Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) 2019 in Seattle, Washington.