AIDS Virus Returns in Men Who Received Bone Marrow Transplants

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Earlier this year, Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes announced that two men who were previously diagnosed with HIV and were actively taking medications for it, received bone marrow transplants for cancer and seem to be HIV free. This week, it was announced that the infection has returned.

    Kuritzkes and Dr. Timothy Heinrich work at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and treated both men for HIV. They actively sought patients who had received bone marrow transplants because of Timothy Brown, an AIDS patient who was previously treated with a bone marrow transplant from a donor who had a “genetic mutation that makes immune cells resist HIV infection.” [1] Brown has been free of the HIV virus for more than 5 years. Kuritzkes and Heinrich wanted to see if this could be replicated.

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    In July, Kuritzkes announced that both men he had been treating appeared to be free of the HIV virus - one for almost three years and one for more than four years. A few months prior to the announcement, both men had elected to stop treatment for HIV because the disease seemed to be gone. Even so, both men were slated to receive blood tests on a monthly basis to check to see if the disease returned.

    This week, it was announced that the HIV virus had returned in both men. “It’s disappointing. But it still taught us a great deal,” Kuritzkes stated. This means that even if the HIV seems to disappear, it can be hiding in some area of the body and reappear and reactivate. It also means that the virus may be in places other than the blood system.

    In another case, a toddler in Mississippi was deemed “functionally cured” in March. Doctors attributed early and aggressive treatment. The toddler received three drugs within 30 hours of birth. Treatment was stopped at 18 months. Months later, the toddler showed only trace amounts of HIV. In this case, the mother had received a bone marrow transplant and had not been tested for HIV until shortly before the birth of her child. Doctors hope that this case can be replicated in other children exposed to AIDS in the womb.


    “AIDS Virus Comes Back in Men Who Hoped for Cure,” 2013, Dec. 9, Maggie Fox, NBCNews. com

    [1] “Treated for Cancer, Two Men Now Appear Free of HIV,” 2013, July 2, Maggie Fox,

Published On: December 12, 2013