Friday, November 14, 2008

Could stem cell transplants be the answer to AIDS?

I read a few articles yesterday about a man who may have been cured of AIDS with a bone marrow transplant. Apparently, an American man with both HIV and leukemia was receiving treatment in Germany. His doctor recommended and proceeded with a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant for the leukemia but found, 20 month later, that the man was also HIV-free.

While this may seem promising and that was my first reaction, as I thought about it, I began to have my doubts. I don't doubt that this man's HIV went away, but was it the transplant? If so and if it does become a promising treatment, how realistic is it?

People with leukemia have a tough enough time finding a bone marrow donor who matches them, how would people find a donor for HIV. And, since there are  parts of the world that have so many cases of AIDS, like in many countries in Africa, how will they pay for such an expensive treatment? How could they even manage?

I don't mean to belittle the findings - if they're accurate. But I have a suspicion there's more behind this than meets the eye.

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Today at Cancer Commentary:

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