In a nutshell, a rare mutation in bone marrow blocks HIV infection, and there are two documented patients who have been cured of HIV after receiving a bone marrow transplant. But the mutation found mostly in people of Northern European descent and bone marrow transplants require close genetic matches. Additionally, bone marrow transplants are risky, and are a last resort treatment.
The new treatment uses umbilical cord blood which is more widely available. The patient also got a partial bone marrow transplant from a relative.
A woman of mixed race appears to be the third person ever to be cured of H.I.V., using a new transplant method involving umbilical cord blood that opens up the possibility of curing more people of diverse racial backgrounds than was previously possible, scientists announced on Tuesday.
Cord blood is more widely available than the adult stem cells typically used in bone marrow transplants, and does not need to be matched as closely to the recipient. Most donors in registries are of Caucasian origin, so allowing for only a partial match has the potential to cure dozens of Americans who have both H.I.V. and cancer each year, scientists said.