'Cured' HIV Patient May Still Have Virus

By: Daniel Villarreal
6.12.2012

Several years back, the doctors of HIV-positive man Timothy Ray Brown announced that Brown had miraculously become HIV-negative. The doctors gave Brown an HIV-resistant stem cell transplant to help his leukemia and found that afterwards he had no detectable HIV left in his body.

But this month, researchers at the University of California found traces of HIV DNA in samples of Brown's blood and body tissue, leaving experts unsure if his "cure" was complete.

Researchers at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine tried to compare the newly discovered DNA samples to HIV DNA Brown had before he got "cured." The two viruses did not match, leading to several possibilities.

Researchers think that Brown's most recent samples might have gotten contaminated or that Brown's tissues merely contain traces of the dying HIV virus. French HIV researcher lain Lafeuillade thinks that Brown could have been cured and then re-contracted the virus afterwards.

Nothing's for certain, but it makes for a very interesting mystery on the way to an eventual cure.

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