Second patient to be cured of HIV shrugs anonymity and reveals identity
The patient was known in scientific papers as 'The London Patient'.
The second person ever to be cured of HIV has waived his anonymity and revealed his identity as he vows to be an "ambassador of hope" for others living with the condition.
Adam Castillejo endured an arduous journey from diagnosis, to years of treatment, to eventually being declared free of HIV in London last year.
He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 at the age of 23 and developed Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012, a type of cancer which patients with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome are at increased risk of developing.
As part of his treatment for this in 2016, he underwent a stem cell transplant from a donor carrying a genetic mutation in the HIV receptor CCR5. The mutation impedes the HIV virus from entering human cells.
After antiretroviral drugs were discontinued, researchers found that Castillejo has been in remission for 30 months with no viable traces of the virus left in his system.
He is now the second person to be cured after Timothy Ray Brown, who was declared virus-free in 2007.
“I was watching TV, and it’s, like, ‘OK, they’re talking about me,’” Castillejo told The New York Times. “It was very strange, a very weird place to be.”
He's now come out in the open to speak about it because, while he was pronounced as cured in the media last year, doctors had been hesitant to use the word instead favouring "remission", but doctors are more certain that he is virus-free.
“We think this is a cure now, because it’s been another year and we’ve done a few more tests,” his virologist, Dr. Ravindra Gupta of the University of Cambridge, told The New York Times.