The second person in the world to ever be cured of HIV just revealed his identity
The second person to be cured of HIV – until now known only as the “London patient” – has been named as Adam Castillejo.
Castillejo, 40, revealed his identity a year after scientists announced he had been “functionally cured” of HIV.
At the time he chose to remain anonymous, but now Castillejo has decided to come forward so that he can be “an ambassador of hope”.
“This is a unique position to be in, a unique and very humbling position,” he told The New York Times.
‘London patient’ Adam Castillejo cured of HIV after cancer treatment.
Adam Castillejo, who was born in Venezuela but lives in Britain, was effectively cured of HIV while doctors treated the advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma he had been diagnosed with in 2012.
Having lived with HIV since 2003, he was given bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation which made him resistant to the virus.
The treatment led to both Castillejo’s cancer and HIV going into remission.
He remained on antiretrovirals for 16 months after the transplant, according to The Guardian, before coming off the drugs.
Blood tests over the following 18 months found no sign of the virus, giving scientists confidence that it will not return.
Castillejo has stressed that he is no different to anybody else who is living with HIV.
“I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh, you’ve been chosen,'” he told The New York Times.
“No, it just happened. I was in the right place, probably at the right time, when it happened.”
Hope that HIV cure could eventually lead to a major breakthrough.
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When Adam Castillejo’s case was first announced in 2019, scientists stressed that his treatment was not suitable for the vast majority of people living with HIV.
“Although it is not a viable large-scale strategy for a cure… these new findings reaffirm our belief that there exists a proof of concept that HIV is curable,” said Anton Pozniak, the president of the International AIDS Society.
“The hope is that this will eventually lead to a safe, cost-effective and easy strategy to achieve these results using gene technology or antibody techniques.”
Castillejo’s case followed a similar one in Germany, where Timothy Brown – the “Berlin patient” – beat HIV with a combination of stem cell transplants and radiotherapy following a diagnosis of leukaemia.
Dr Ravindra Gupta from University College London, lead actor of the “London patient” paper, said that the second case proved the cure “was not an anomaly”.
“By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people,” he said at the time.