TUESDAY, March 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) — In only the second known case worldwide, a man is free of HIV after a stem cell transplant, doctors say.

The London patient has not been identified. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2013 and diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2012. He decided in 2016 to have a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer, the Associated Press reported.

The stem cell donor had a double copy of a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. So, the transplant gave the patient the mutation and built-in HIV resistance, according to the case study that was published online Monday in Nature. The patient agreed to stop taking HIV drugs to see if the virus would return. After 18 months off the drugs, there was still no trace of HIV, the AP reported.

Finding a stem cell donor with a double copy of the HIV-resistant gene mutation was “an improbable event,” said lead researcher Ravindra Gupta, B.M.B.Ch., Ph.D., of University College London. “That’s why this has not been observed more frequently.” In the only other known case, Timothy Ray Brown of the United States became HIV-free after a stem cell transplant in Germany 12 years ago and is still free of the virus.

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