There is hope.

We are continuing with the disease trend from last week’s post, but instead of discussing bad news (E. Coli outbreak in Europe), we have good news.

In the past week, word of one British man’s victory over HIV has spread like wildfire. Timothy Ray Brown was a leukemia patient who was also HIV positive in 2007, when he underwent surgery for a bone marrow transplant. Mr. Brown received his bone marrow transplant from a donor who was immune to HIV. According to Yahoo! News, and estimated 1 percent of Caucasians are immune to the disease. After is surgery, the article reports, ” His HIV went away.” His symptoms disappeared, the virus has stopped replicating, and he does not take any medicine for the illness.

News of this medical breakthrough is fantastic, and comes almost thirty years to the day when the Centers for Disease Control issued its first report on the emerging AIDS epidemic. Kevin Cunningham, author of Morgan Reynolds’ Diseases in History: HIV/AIDS, writes, “One of the most terrifying aspects of the early AIDS epidemic was the fact that nothing worked against the disease. No medicine stopped it, certainly none cured it, and no vaccine prevented it.

“The epidemics and the pandemic that followed [HIV/AIDS] have taught us a lot–about ourselves and the world and our vulnerability to new and undiscovered viruses,” Cunningham adds. “Where HIV leads, and whether its lessons help us with the next disease to appear, remains to be seen.”

Brown’s case gives millions of HIV positive people reason to hope. However, bone marrow transplants are extremely dangerous and often deadly. It is unrealistic to assume that the 30 + million of HIV positive patients worldwide could receive this extreme treatment. But its discovery is a step in the right direction.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information on HIV/AIDS and the history of the disease, check out Diseases in History: HIV/AIDS by Kevin Cunningham (ISBN 978-1-59935-104-9)

Published in: on June 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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