Disappointing news: HIV has returned in the two men who were able to go off antiretroviral medication because of undetectable virus levels after receiving bone marrow transplants for cancer, according to news reports.
The Boston Globe first reported the news, which was presented at an AIDS research conference in Florida. The results are preliminary, but researchers noted that they wanted the findings to be released as soon as possible because other scientists were basing studies off of their initial results, according to the Boston Globe.
"We felt it would be scientifically unfair to not let people know how things are going, especially for potential patients," the lead scientist of the findings, Dr. Timothy Henrich, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, told The Boston Globe. The findings suggest that HIV reservoirs could be hiding deeper in the body than previously thought.
The initial news that the men's HIV had been reduced to undetectable levels made headlines earlier this year, when researchers announced that the men were able to go off their HIV medication for several weeks without any trace of the virus in their systems. The men, who were HIV positive and were taking antiretroviral drugs, both developed Hodgkin's lymphoma. They received the transplants as treatment for the cancer while also taking the antiretroviral medication. HIV was reduced to undetectable levels in both of the men, and they were eventually able to go off of their antiretroviral medication.
The most recent update on the men's conditions was given in July of this year at the International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention. However, Dr. Robert Siciliano of Johns Hopkins University noted in a statement released at that time that it could take more than a year to determine whether or not either would have a viral rebound.
The first person "cured" of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown, also known as "The Berlin Patient," still does not need to take HIV medication; he received a blood stem cell transplant from a person with an HIV-resistance gene mutation.