(The hill) – On Tuesday, scientists announced that the first woman was cured of HIV using a stem cell transplant, according to numerous reports. Scientists expect to expand the suitability of state-of-the-art treatment up to dozens of people each year, according to NBC.
For treatment, umbilical cord blood stem cells were used, which is more widely available than adult stem cells used in bone marrow transplantation, according to The New York Times. The Times noted that umbilical cord stem cells should also not be as close to the recipient as bone marrow cells.
An HIV-positive woman also had leukemia and was receiving umbilical cord blood cancer treatment from a donor who partially matched. She also received blood from a close relative, the Times reported.
It is believed that this is the first time a woman has been cured of HIV. Although women make up half of the world’s HIV infections, only 11 percent of those tested are women, the newspaper said.
The two men appear to have been cured of HIV with similar treatments, which were also originally used to treat cancer, NBC reports.
However, these therapeutic processes are incredibly risky, as the entire immune system is essentially destroyed and then replaced. Researchers consider it unethical to use this method of treatment for any HIV-positive person who does not have a fatal cancer attack because of the high risks involved.