A Cure For AIDS

I was 16 years old in 1986 when I met Mona. Mona was friends with my then boyfriend, she was 22 and recently widowed. Her husband had died of AIDS, she had it. I remember hugging Mona, but still feeling nervous about it. Before I was 17 she had called me at home from the hospital. She said she had pancreatitis and she felt like she was dying.

I never heard from Mona again. I assume she died, probably not that week.

I met Gene when I was 17. He was my best friend’s brother. He was HIV positive. He drove an enormous blue convertible and would park it in random places and we’d all hop out of the car and dance to “Losing My Religion” at the loudest possible volume.

I met Steven and Frank when I was 19. Steven and I were instantly joined at the hip. We loved each other. He’d tell me about his sisters back home and how much I reminded them of him. We got our puppies at the same time, we did our hair and nails together, we danced until the sun came up, and we held hands all the time.

Frank died when I was 21. His parents did not want Steven at the funeral. They were cruel to everyone from West Hollywood and angry with Frank for being gay.

Gene died of AIDS when I was 23, sort of. He was dying, there was nothing left to him, so he hurried it along with a bag full of pills. It made sense at the time, and everyone was excruciatingly careful to not help him. We wouldn’t even pick up his prescriptions for him. We didn’t want to be called murderers.

We sat at his bedside, a dozen of us, and sang “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” while Gene ate poison applesauce that he’d prepared himself. For another dozen hours men laid in bed with him chanting Ohm. When Gene stopped breathing we called the funeral home and left his body for them.

When Steven died in 2007 part of me died with him.

This morning my brother sent me an email. It read:

http://bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/cgi/content/abstract/blood-2010-09-309591v1

Read the last sentence of the abstract.

I sat at my desk and cried. I never thought this would happen in my lifetime.

In conclusion, our results strongly suggest that cure of HIV has been achieved in this patient.

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Comments 8

  1. I also lost a friend back in the ’80’s. AND also back in the day when you actually thought you could ‘catch’ it by hugging or touching their cups… how sad that was. For some reason I wasn’t scared and gave her many hugs. Glad of that now.
    Cheers to a cure for the many millions still to live!

  2. I’ve read that article about a dozen times today. I just can’t make myself believe it. It’s too incredible to be true. I really never thought I’d read those words.

  3. Oh, let’s hope! Let’s hope the results can be replicated, until we don’t have to fear it anymore. Let’s hope that our governing bodies reopen the books on stem-cell research and realize what can be done. My buddy Jack died slowly of HIV. His partner chose to die faster once he got his results. Let’s cry to heaven that nothing like that ever need happen again.

  4. Okay. I’ve had friends who died from AIDS. I have friends who are living with HIV. I read that abstract last week and thought “wait – so the ‘cure’ is a mutated cell variant? Why would there be donor cells and where would they get them from?”

    So yeah. I’m about to be a huge wet blanket here… I don’t mean to be. But I hate it when people like those doctors create false hope.

    http://www.fiercebiotech.com/story/first-hiv-cure-comes-very-big-catch/2010-12-15
    “…their radical therapy strategy offers no hope for the tens of millions of people around the world with the lethal virus.
    Working with a myeloid leukemia patient who also suffered from AIDS, the investigators first used chemo to attack the cancer and then transplanted bone marrow containing stem cells from a matched donor. But this was no ordinary match. The donor was one of a handful of people whose stem cells carried a specific genetic mutation which provides natural resistance to the virus. Only one in 100 Europeans carry the CCR5 gene.”

    It’s not really “cured.” It’s absent in one patient. Then you go read a little bit more and find out that the bone marrow transplant had to match, the patient’s immune system had to be completely wiped out, and that it’s not an option for most HIV patients. :(
    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/12/hiv-treatment-for-one-but-not.html

    I’m sorry. I hate being the bearer of bad tidings.

  5. I was 7 when my uncle died of Aids in 1987, I remember what he looked like on his deathbed like it was yesterday. It is not something I would wish on anyone.

    This can give hope to the world to hopefully finally get rid of this terrible disease. Now if only it can be replicated.

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