Man "cured" of HIV?
A hospital in London is to carry out tests on a British man reported to become the first person to be cured of HIV.
In August 2002, 25-year-old Andrew Stimpson was diagnosed as HIV positive.
However, 14 months later Mr Stimpson, who had not taken any medication for HIV, was found to be clear of the virus.
Mr Stimpson sought compensation for what he thought was an initial error but was told that there was no case to answer because there was no fault with the testing procedure.
Alternatively, possibly Mr. Stimpson is a carrier of the CCR5Δ32 mutation, which demolishes an HIV coreceptor on lymphoid cells and leading to a potent resistant to HIV infection in carriers (although it's unlikely that such a mutation would cause anti-HIV antibody to fall to undetectable levels so fast after being positive). It is also possible, albeit much less likely, that Mr. Stimpson's initial test was not a false positive and that he has some new form of resistance to HIV that can't be explained by the known mutation that confers HIV resistance (CCR5Δ32). In that case, he would definitely be worth studying.
Here's a prediction, though: Look for the HIV denialists to try to make some hay over this story if it gets out widely into the blogosphere. Just watch. Never mind that, even in the unlikely event that the first test was not a false positive and that Mr. Stimpson does indeed have some sort of previously undescribed resistance to HIV infection, it would not invalidate the data showing that HIV infection causes AIDS.
Consider my comments pre-emption.
(This is one prediction that will make me happy if I turn out to be wrong.)
(Via Kevin, MD and Medpundit)
ADDENDUM: Here's a more detailed account.
ADDENDUM #2: The whole story's starting to sound fishier and fishier. Mr. Stimpson is claiming he rid his body of HIV taking nothing more than vitamins and is now "declining" to undergo further testing, despite mounting pressure from the medical community and HIV advocates. Money quote:
Though Mr Stimpson insists he will "do anything I can", associates said yesterday that he had gone away to rest and escape the media spotlight.
Campaigners are annoyed that having not yet undergone the vital tests, Mr Stimpson nevertheless signed contracts with the News of The World and the Mail on Sunday, both of which published his claims yesterday.
They also sounded a note of caution, noting that disclosures in his case arose not from medical research or peer review but from legal correspondence relating to an action Mr Stimpson was pursuing against the health trust. He had feared the positive results might have been wrong and had sought compensation. The trust's contention that both sets of blood tests were accurate emerged as it tried to defend itself from litigation.
Mr Stimpson, who lives in London with his partner, who is HIV positive, said: "There are 34.9 million people with HIV globally and I am just one person who managed to control it, to survive from it and to get rid of it from my body. For me that is unbelievable - it is a miracle. I think I'm one of the luckiest people alive.
"I was just taking daily supplements to keep myself as healthy as possible so as not to get full-blown Aids."
But Annabel Kanabus, director of the Aids charity, Avert, said he must match words with deeds. "He must come forward. Organisations such as ours will be inundated this week. There is enough confusion surrounding the issue of HIV. We don't need any more."
She said the sequence of events is troubling. "He was told in October that he would not be paid by the trust so he goes to the newspapers. I think he should have gone straight to his doctors."
(Hat tip to Kevin, M.D. again. And yet one more story here.)
ADDENDUM #3: It turns out that my initial prediction in the original post was correct. No big surprise there, as it was quite a safe bet. I would have been more surprised if I had been wrong.