BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — It’s being called as a possible medical breakthrough around the world.
Health officials say a man in London may be the second person ever to be cured of HIV.
“It gives us a lot of hope and it’s very encouraging for what the treatment can be like for HIV patients in the future,” said AIDS and HIV service coordinator at UHS Patient Care in Binghamton, TerriAnn Montoya.
“I think does open the door for more study. I think it could change the way we think about HIV as incurable. It’s possible,” said the director of health center operations for Family Planning of South Central New York in Binghamton, Melissa Brennan.
Researchers say an HIV positive man from London received stem cell transplants to fight his cancer. They say his stem cell donor had a rare genetic disorder that helped cure him of the virus.
“The white blood cells are the target of HIV, they had a mutation on their white blood cells that’s resistant to HIV so HIV cannot even get to the cell of the white blood cell,” said Brennan.
This news comes as local HIV experts say they have seen a decrease in infected patients in the Southern Tier.
“We have had very few newly-diagnosed patients which is wonderful for our area,” said Montoya. “We currently at UHS serve 300 plus HIV positive patients. Ninety percent of them are undetectable from anti-retroviral medications.”
While some experts believe the news might be a step in the right direction, they believe there is still more research needed for a cure.
“It’s only to people in the past two years, in the past 10 years, and we got to look at the cost and reward per person. Some bone marrow transplant is not for everybody so we have to look at specific individuals without harming them further,” said Montoya.
Professionals do believe this a breakthrough for more than just an HIV cure and it could spread hope for infected patients in the area.
“It opens the door for other therapy such as gene modification therapy,” said Brennan.
“Our medical director is learning so much cutting edge information that he is going to bring back to the clinic and we are really hopeful that this will open a lot of doors for UHS and our area,” said Montoya.
Experts say prevention as well as being tested is still the best way to combat HIV.
“We have excellent treatments that are much better tolerated than they used to be that can keep a person well, often times for a normal lifespan,” said Brennan.
“Knowing your status is education, and knowledge is power. The more you know about yourself and your partners, the more you can protect yourself,” said Montoya.
UHS Patient Care in Binghamton as well as Family Planning of South Central New York both offer HIV testing and prevention methods. UHS also helps treat patients who are infected.