Let's hope more recover from the virus in years to come!
There are 35 million HIV-positive people in the world, and bone marrow transplants from donors with the HIV-resistant CCR5-delta 32 mutation - which both "Berlin Patient" Timothy Ray Brown and the anonymous London Patient received - will not be a likely treatment option for most.
This case shows that "the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly", said presenter Dr. Ravindra Gupta of University College London.
Scientists have since tried to duplicate the procedure that led to the breakthrough in the treatment of the pandemic. These drugs halt HIV from replicating and allow an infected person to regain a functioning immune system.
"At the moment, the only way to treat HIV is with medications that suppress the virus, which people need to take for their entire lives", said Gupta.
"There is no virus there that we can measure".
Gupta who led the medical team that treated the man described the patient as "functionally cured" and "in remission", but cautioned: "It's too early to say he's cured".
Prof Gupta's case was in an HIV-positive man with advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma who received a transplant of haematopoietic stem cells from a donor with two copies of the so-called CCR5 gene mutation - the same one allegedly edited by Chinese researcher He Jiankui that led to the birth of the world's first gene-edited babies previous year.
Replacing the immune cells with those that do not have the CCR5 receptor appears to help prevent HIV from rebounding after the treatment. The donor had this double copy of the mutation.
Even more incredible, besides the "London patient", another person, known as the "Düsseldorf patient", has also been off HIV drugs for four months. He underwent chemotherapy to treat the Hodgkin's cancer and, in addition, stem cells were implanted into the patient from a donor resistant to HIV, leading to both his cancer and HIV going into remission.
A man who had been HIV-positive since 2003 now has no sign of the disease after a stem cell transplant from a donor with natural immunity. The widely criticised Chinese doctor He Jiankui, has in fact, claimed to have modified the CCR5 protein in at least two children using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology.
"Finally, there is significant morbidity and mortality associated with this type of transplantation, even when conducted in the best centres, and under the best circumstances", he was quoted by news.com.au.
According to Gupta, the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies.
HIV/AIDS remains a major public health concern and the main cause of death in spite of numerous efforts to control the spread of the disease.
The vast majority of people living with HIV are located in low- and middle- income countries, with an estimated 66% living in sub-Saharan Africa.
"It's one thing when you hear something is manageable and another thing to live it", said Greg Louganis, the Olympic champion diver who was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, six months before he won two gold medals in Seoul.