A patient with HIV in the United States was deemed to be entirely cured of the condition in July 2022. The discovery of a virus treatment was widely regarded as a significant advancement.
The patient is just one of five people worldwide who have undergone stem cell transplantation and been entirely cured of both HIV and leukaemia. In 1988, the man, then age 66, received an AIDS diagnosis. The senior among the five, he is. Despite the illness, he continued to live longer.
Paul Edmonds first did not want to divulge his identity, but a year later he made up his mind to do so. He spoke with BBC News Brazil for his first interview. Edmonds took some time to decide. But now he’s made the decision to share his tale. “I want to serve as an example for AIDS-affected persons. I wish to honour those who have lost their lives to this illness,” he stated.
HIV, often known as HIV, assaults the patient’s immune system. It can become AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) in extreme circumstances. The patient’s immune system therefore shuts down, allowing a series of diseases to strike.
There was no HIV cure in the 1980s. It was a death sentence for many. But by the time he discovered HIV, he had already fallen ill with AIDS.
Recent decades have seen the success of novel therapies. People today are aware of ways to prevent having AIDS and how they can live longer with this infection.
The patient will need to take medication for the rest of his life because there is no complete treatment for this. Edmonds received a leukaemia diagnosis in 2018, which is another illness that might be fatal. He calls his full recovery from the illness a “miracle”.
It is a particular type of cancer that affects blood cells and bone marrow. Doctors suggested a stem cell transplant for Edmonds. It is a really difficult procedure. The sickness can only be cured in this way, though.
He now required a donor who has the CCR5 delta 32 genetic mutation, which renders him resistant to the HIV virus. Edmonds received medical care at the City of Hope Cancer Centre in California in 2019. In 2021, two years later, he was totally drug-free for HIV.
He has not yet shown any signs of leukaemia or HIV. He has healed completely. However, HIV-positive patients are an exception who can receive such replacement therapy. However, Edmonds’ and four other patients’ advancements have given medical professionals and researchers optimism that they might discover new remedies for the illness.
The process of a stem cell transplant is challenging. It can have a lot of adverse effects, according to Dr. Jana Dichter of the Edmonds treatment team, who spoke to the BBC. “It’s not a reliable substitute for the majority of HIV patients, but it’s an excellent choice for leukaemia sufferers. They may gain from it, he claims.
Early testing, living with HIV
Paul Edmonds was raised in the 10,000-person hamlet of Toccoa in rural Georgia. Despite being raised in a religiously conservative and narrow-minded environment, his parents did not reject him when he came out as homosexual.
He relocated to San Francisco, California, in 1976, when he was 21 years old, when the homosexual movement was quite active. “We had a great time. “Gay people from all over the world flocked to San Francisco in those days,” Edmonds says.
However, during the 1980s, the majority of them were unwell, which “caused a lot of panic. What was happening was unknown. People were very alarmed when this new illness was referred to as “gay cancer,” he said. Most HIV patients pass quite soon after being diagnosed.
He had mental distress upon seeing the names of his friends and acquaintances in the newspaper as the number of deaths grew to such an extent. He claims that he had no symptoms when he opted to get tested for HIV in 1988, despite the fact that there were concerns that he may be a “carrier” of the infection.
“To deliver her test results, a lady who was completing an internship at the clinic arrived. She was at a loss for words. It was quite challenging for him. It appeared on his face. I was also taken aback by it. Besides that. I was given the AIDS diagnosis because my T lymphocyte count (CD4) was less than 200 (per cubic millimetre of blood). This is recognised as having AIDS. Edmonds made a note.
He believed that he would experience the same destiny as his pals. He started drinking heavily out of despair, but ultimately he sobered up and started receiving regular therapy. “I had to switch whenever a new medicine was out. Because they had so many side effects, it was extremely painful. I utilised medical marijuana to stay away from them,” he claimed.
She first connected with Arnold House in 1992. He should get tested for HIV, according to Edmonds. “He also showed positive results. Another shock followed. He was courageous, though. We continued living our lives,” recalls Edmonds.
In 2014, Edmonds wed his partner in a formal ceremony. They had been cohabiting for 31 years. “The first attraction we experienced persisted. Since the day we met, we haven’t split up, he claims.
Search for alternative therapy and donor
Better HIV medications have been available over time. He received a myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) diagnosis in 2018. It is alleged to be a collection of conditions that trigger blood cancer. Myeloid leukaemia later developed from it.
Other than weariness, he had no other symptoms. His cancer and perhaps even HIV could be cured by the procedure, according to doctors. Dr. Jana Dichter said that a stem cell transplant substitutes donor cells for the cancerous bone marrow tissue within the body.
After then, the hunt for a donor who was HIV-immune started. According to doctors, only 1% to 2% of the population falls into this category. The situation for Edmonds is difficult. He had to endure chemotherapy for the malignancy, which further compromised his already compromised immune system brought on by HIV.
Finally, Donner, age 63, was located in 2019. The transplant went well. Edmonds ignored the effects of the procedure and concentrated on it. And greetings from all over the nation poured in. As a result of the Covid-19 epidemic, HIV therapy was discontinued about this time. In March 2021, two years after ceasing all antiretroviral medication (HIV treatment), Edmonds.
Since that time, he has never had leukaemia or HIV. But rather than “complete cure,” physicians refer to it as “long-term cure.” “We don’t say the disease is completely cured of HIV treatment, but Edmonds has been off medication for two years and has no evidence of HIV in his body,” claims Jana Dichter.
To formally declare Edmonds “fully recovered,” according to experts in infectious diseases, additional time and information are required. However, a patient is considered to be fully cured of HIV if they have not experienced any symptoms for five years.
A rare cure that gives hope
Only 15 HIV patients have received this treatment to date in the entire world. 8 of them passed away. Edmonds is one of five persons who have sustained long-term recoveries. Dr. Jana observed that two more people were still on HIV treatment.
The ‘City of Hope Patient’ is how many refer to Edmonds. The final four patients came from Düsseldorf, Berlin, London, and New York. This therapy is not commonly provided to HIV patients. because it is extremely risky and challenging to find a toner.
This medication is presently only available to HIV-positive cancer patients. However, thanks to this effective treatment, more knowledge about the virus will be available, giving other patients hope.
Paul Edmonds is being researched and will pass tests and exams to find the right cure for HIV AIDS and Cancer together from Dr. Jana Ditcher
Edmonds is still being researched, and he must pass a number of exams. Dr. Jana Dichter stated that discovering a cancer and HIV cure together is crucial and will provide patients in the future a strong hope.