(The Hill) – Scientists announced Tuesday that the first woman appears to be cured of HIV using a stem cell transplant method, according to multiple reports.
Scientists expect to expand the eligibility of the state-of-the-art treatment to dozens more people every year, NBC reported.
The treatment used stem cells from umbilical cord blood, which is more widely available than adult stem cells used in bone marrow transplants, according to The New York Times. Stem cells from umbilical cords also do not need to be as closely matched to the recipient as bone marrow cells do, The Times noted.
The HIV-positive woman also had leukemia and had received treatment from the umbilical cord blood for her cancer from a donor who partially matched. She also received blood from a close relative, according to the Times.
The case is believed to be the first time that a woman has had her HIV medically cured. Although women comprise half of the world’s HIV cases, only 11 percent of cure trial participants are women, the newspaper noted.
Two men have been apparently cured of their HIV cases with similar treatments, which were initially undergone for cancer treatments as well, reports NBC.
However, these therapeutic processes are incredibly risky, as the entire immune system is essentially destroyed and then replaced. Researchers believe it is unethical to use this treatment on any HIV-positive individual who does not have a fatal bout of cancer because of how high the associated risks are.