Human Immunodeficiency Virus | 27 Feb 2023

For Prelims: Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Bone-marrow transplant, CCR5-delta 32 Mutation.

For Mains: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome stage (AIDS), Antiretroviral therapy, Stem Cell Transplant.

Why in News?

An old man from Germany, referred to as the Dusseldorf patient, has become at least the third person to have been “cured of HIV with the virus not being detectable in his body even four years after stopping the medicine.

  • This was achieved with a bone-marrow transplant from people carrying a specific HIV-resistant genetic mutation.

What are the Other Reported Recoveries from HIV?

  • A Berlin patient became the first person to overcome HIV after receiving two stem cell transplants in 2007 and 2008 for his blood cancer.
    • The doctors selected a donor with a genetic mutation called CCR5-delta 32 that makes carriers almost immune to HIV.
  • In 2019, similar results were replicated in the London patient. Two more cases of successful treatment were reported in 2022.

What is CCR5-delta 32 Mutation?

  • Cysteine-cysteine chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) is the main HIV co-receptor involved in the virus and cell-to-cell spread.
  • The CCR5 receptors on CD4 cells are used as a doorway by HIV. The CCR5-delta 32 mutation prevents these receptors from forming on CD4 cells, which effectively removes the doorway.
  • Only 1% of people worldwide have two copies of the mutation, and 20% carry one copy, mostly those of European descent. Those with the mutation are almost immune to HIV, although some cases have been reported.

What is HIV?

  • About:
    • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is a virus that attacks the immune system in the human body.
    • It primarily targets and damages CD4 immune cells, which are essential for the body's ability to fight infections and diseases.
      • Over time, HIV weakens the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to opportunistic infections and cancers.
  • Transmission:
    • HIV is primarily spread through the exchange of certain bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk.
  • Severity:
  • Cure:
    • Although there are no cures for the infection at present, the disease can be managed using antiretroviral therapy.
      • These medicines suppress the replication of the virus within the body, allowing the number of CD4 immune cells to bounce back.

What is Bone Marrow Transplant?

  • A bone marrow transplant is a medical treatment that replaces one’s bone marrow with healthy cells.
    • The replacement cells can either come from the person’s own body or from a donor.
  • A bone marrow transplant is also called a stem cell transplant or, more specifically, a hematopoietic stem cell transplant.
    • Transplantation can be used to treat certain types of cancer, such as leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma, and other blood and immune system diseases that affect the bone marrow.
  • Bone marrow transplants may use cells from the same person (autologous transplant) or from a donor (allogeneic transplant).

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Q. Which of the following diseases can be transmitted from one person to another through tattooing? (2013)

  1. Chikungunya
  2. Hepatitis B

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only 
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (b)

Source: IE