Doctors Announce They Have ‘Cured’ a Second Person of HIV Infection

Timothy Ray Brown

For only the second time, doctors have announced they have “effectively cured” a patient with HIV using stem cells, sending the virus into “sustained remission.”

The patient in the new case is from the UK but has not been identified.

Reuters reports: ‘An HIV-positive man in Britain has become the second known adult worldwide to be cleared of the AIDS virus after he received a bone marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donor, his doctors said. Almost three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection – and more than 18 months after coming off antiretroviral drugs – highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man’s previous HIV infection.’

STAT reports: ‘The person who received this latest transplant in London has not taken antiretroviral drugs since September 2017…. “Those of us in the field have been waiting for a second cure via this approach,” said Dr. Keith Jerome, one of the leaders of HIV cure research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “As long as Timothy Brown was the only [one], we’d have always wondered if there [was] something unique about it.”’

Brown, aka the “Berlin Patient,’ was ‘cured’ of HIV infection via chemotherapy, radiation, and genetically-engineered stem cells in 2010.

The doctors’ results were to be published in the journal Nature and at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle on Tuesday.

A 2013 report on Timothy Ray Brown:

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1 in 5 non-binary people denied medical treatment due to their identity

A patient has their blood pressure measured by a health worker

A new study from academics found that 1 in 5 non-binary people in the United States are denied healthcare and medical treatment due to their gender identity.

Dr. Walter Liszewski, a resident at the University of Minnesota, and three other co-authors published Persons of Nonbinary Gender — Awareness, Visibility, and Health Disparities for the New England Journal of Medicine in December.

‘As our society’s concept of gender evolves, so does the visibility of contemporary nonbinary people,’ they wrote at the start of the paper.

‘Yet many members of the medical community may not know how to interact with nonbinary patients respectfully or recognize their unique needs and barriers to care.’

The alarming findings

According to the paper, 23% of non-binary people have avoided seeking medical treatment due to fear of discrimination.

Another 19% said they’ve been denied treatment altogether due to their identity as non-binary people.

The authors further revealed other details about non-binary people’s health. They found that, overall, non-binary people face higher rates of certain health and life conditions than other people.

Some of these conditions include psychological stress and mental health struggles, being victims of domestic abuse, and poverty and unemployment.

‘We need to do better’

Liszewski said in a press release he hopes the paper will make doctors ‘aware of nonbinary patients, and realize we need to do a better job of allowing these individuals to access quality healthcare’.

‘Our findings really highlight that there’s a lot of skepticism and hesitancy around nonbinary and gender nonconforming patients to engage with healthcare professionals,’ he added.

Previous studies have shown similar results, both abroad and in the US.

A study last year out of UCLA revealed, out of LGB people, bisexual people in the US have the worst access to a regular doctor, as well as higher rates of unhealth behavior.

In general, discrimination is a massive problem in the world of healthcare for LGBTI people.

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NHS England announces support for doubling PrEP trial

A man holds a PrEP (Truvada) pill to prevent acquiring HIV

NHS England announced on Friday (11 January) its support for a request from researchers leading the PrEP IMPACT Trial. The request asks for the trial to double its places. This would give 26,000 people access to the life-saving pill, compared to the former 13,000 people.

The Programme Oversight Board will make the final decision regarding this request next Tuesday (15 January). It is a critical step forward, despite the lack of a final decision.

Over 40 clinics are participating in the trial. Prior to this doubling, they were having to turn away gay and bisexual men.

‘The original 10,000 places were never going to be enough and since it started the trial has already had to be expanded from 10,000 to 13,000 places,’ explained Debbie Laycock, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Terrence Higgins Trust.

She also stressed the importance of the decision to double: ‘Without an expansion, it’s likely all the places for gay and bisexual men will be taken imminently. That coupled with reports of people becoming infected with HIV after being unable to access PrEP via the trial is why we and other HIV campaigners have been shouting about this so loudly.’

People without HIV take PrEP, a single pill, daily. Its continuous intake can help drastically lower the chance of infection.

‘While today’s statement from NHS England is definitely a step in the right direction, the long fight for PrEP to be available on the NHS in England isn’t over yet,’ she added.

PrEP needs to be more accessible

Matthew Hodson, the Executive Director at NAM, also responded to NHS England’s support.

‘Reports suggest that some men who were turned away have subsequently acquired HIV, meaning that they now face a lifetime of HIV treatment,’ he said, reiterating Laycock’s comments.

‘For this reason, I welcome the proposal to double the number of places available on the trial.’

NAM is an organization and charity providing accurate and up-to-date information on HIV/AIDS.

Hodson acknowledged the need for funding to double the trial. He stressed, however, that if England is ‘serious about halting new HIV infections in this country we should ensure that all people at high risk of acquiring HIV should be aware of PrEP, should be offered it and should be able to access it if they so choose’.

Access to healthcare is a critical right for LGBTI people worldwide, and PrEP is an important part of that.

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