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Cure for HIV: Research on Stem Cell Transplant as HIV and AIDS Treatment

Updated on August 15, 2013
IPSF HIV/AIDS Campaign Logo
IPSF HIV/AIDS Campaign Logo | Source

Facts and Figures

  • 60 millions people have been infected since the epidemic started
  • Approximately 30 Million have died from HIV
  • In 2008 430,000 children were born with HIV
  • 67% of HIV positive individuals are in the Sub Saharan Africa Region, 91% of new infections in children are located here


The mere mention of HIV and AIDS can send shivers down anyone’s spine. This is how dreadful HIV is as it can debilitate and truly affect the person’s life. To date, AIDS statistics show that more than 30 million have died due to the virus. For the past 30 years, the virus seems to be unstoppable. According to the United Nations, as much as 7,000 people are diagnosed as HIV positive every year.

The first drugs concocted by scientists in the 90’s gave hope to many HIV patients in that it made the disease more manageable. Unfortunately, the assortment of drugs being used for the treatment is extremely expensive. Developing the drugs to manage the disease can cost up to $13 billion. Suffice to say, the road to finding HIV treatment is costly. This raises concerns since the number of people infected keeps on growing. Much of these patients don’t have the means to pay for the exorbitant cost of the treatment.

When almost everyone has given up hope on finding an effective HIV treatment; here comes the “Berlin Patient”. His story has truly astonished the scientific community. Likewise, he has given back the hope to those afflicted HIV and AIDS.

Like many other patients, Timothy Ray Brown has exhausted all means to battle the virus. But in 2007, his trip to Berlin,Germanyhe received a bone marrow stem cell transplant. The procedure itself is unique as stem cell research and stem cell therapy is still in its infancy. But what makes this stem cell treatment even more remarkable is that the cells transplanted to him were from a person who is immune to the virus. Yes, there are those who are lucky enough to be unaffected by HIV (approximately 1% of Caucasians have this special gift).

According to his doctor, Gero Huetter, the virus in him is no longer replicating without having to take any medications. Although he is still recovering from some neurological side effects of the procedure, he is practically doing better - and that’s definitely an understatement.

Although stem cell research has made much progress, stem cell transplant is a highly risky procedure. Such procedure can kill the patient. But sometimes the risk is worth it when the circumstances are dire. On a more positive note, the procedure does open up new avenues for research into curing patients and not just managing the disease.

To date, there are 33.3 million people infected with the virus. This AIDS statistics will continue to grow as long as there is no viable HIV treatment. However, with this new procedure, new hope is given to HIV and AIDS patients all over the world.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello krisnicole1987,

      This is really an amazing news. I got the information from several science and medical sites like Science Daily, Physorg and medicalexpress. You can also go to Timothy Brown's site where he shares his experiences. I suggest searching for medical and science journals for additional information.

    • krisnicole1987 profile image

      Tin Tin The Impulsive 5 years ago from Pearl River, LA

      Amazing and informative. Even more so that there is a small percentage who are immune to it, would you be able to share the link or name of the book where you found that out. I would greatly appreciate it.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi Alladream74. even viruses try to protect their existence through mutations. Just consider the common cold! There are several mutations making them more dangerous. Let's just hope our scientists find a cure - one that is long-lasting with no side effects or risks.

      Thanks for contributing.

      Hello Heng Pheng An. Thanks for the information. Just for the others who may not know, CCR5 (chemokine receptor type 5) is a protein. It can be found in the white blood cells. There are some who have developed a mutation - the delta32 mutation. Because of this a portion of the CCR5 gene is genetically removed. The removal of this specific portion makes some people resistant to HIV.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Heng Pheng An

    • profile image

      Heng Pheng An 5 years ago

      I hope the scientist trying hardly to help people in the world by using CCR5 delta32.

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 6 years ago from Oakland, California

      That is right jpcmc.I hope those on medication stick to it to avoid the virus mutating before a cure is found

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      HI there Alladream74, thanks for reading the hub. It's good that there is a cure but it's still in its infancy. Moreover, what is best is prevention.

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 6 years ago from Oakland, California

      Thank goodness for science. I think information and proactivity is key. There are many ways of acquiring HIV and people should feel embrace testing without fearing stigmatisation,it is better to know and deal with it than not to and suffer the consequences.While we wait for a cure,lets keep the discussion going.Great hub!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi Nell. I was surprised to know that some are immune to HIV. Stem cell research is really making news. Thanks for reading the hub.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, that's great news, anything that will help this is great, it's amazing how some people are immune to it, I remember reading about an American sportsman, can't remember who he was, but he got better too, stem cells are an amazing discovery, thanks nell

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      It's a risky procedure and I'm sure not everyone can be a candidate. But true, it's another alternative worth looking into. Thanks for dropping by fucsia.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 6 years ago

      A very great news that opens the door to a new hope.

      Thanks to sharing. It is very interesting!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      That's true avorodisa. Asides from paying attention to your partner, it's also important t know that HIV/AIDS is contracted through the use of syringes especially by people using illegal substances. It's also passed on from mother to child from conception.

    • avorodisa profile image

      Anna Sidorova 6 years ago from Russia

      Yet, the best method is prevention. We must pay attention to people we date and other factors that can put our health in danger.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      @ Pamela. The procedure is risky but it's definitely and alternative.

      @ Cardisa. The virus in Timothy is no longer duplicating itself. Now, it's a matter of getting rid of it. I do hope he fully recovers.

      @ Shanaya. Thanks for reading and the vote up.

    • shanaya profile image

      shanaya 6 years ago from Living in my Own Dreams:)

      Dear Sir Jpcmc! Great HUB and Informative as well.

      UP, USEFUL.

      With Respect

      From SHANAYA:)

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      This is amazing. I had no idea this was possible. I hope Timothy Brown fully recovers and cured 100%. Great information.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Wow, JP, this is incredible news. I hope it will move us forward in the fight of this terrible disease.