The “London Patient,” Cured of H.I.V., Reveals His Identity
A year after the “London Patient” was introduced to the world as only the second person to be cured of H.I.V., he is stepping out of the shadows to reveal his identity: He is Adam Castillejo.
Last March, scientists announced that Mr. Castillejo, then identified only as the “London Patient,” had been cured of H.I.V. after receiving a bone-marrow transplant for his lymphoma. The donor carried a mutation that impeded the ability of H.I.V. to enter cells, so the transplant essentially replaced Mr. Castillejo’s immune system with one resistant to the virus. The approach, though effective in his case, was intended to cure his cancer and is not a practical option for the widespread curing of H.I.V. because of the risks involved.
Only one other individual with H.I.V. — Timothy Ray Brown, the so-called Berlin Patient, in 2008 — has been successfully cured, and there have been many failed attempts. In fact, Mr. Castillejo’s doctors could not be sure last spring that he was truly rid of H.I.V., and they tiptoed around the word “cure,” instead referring to it as a “remission.”
It’s really important that it wasn’t a one-off, it wasn’t a fluke. It can be very important for people to have these kinds of beacons of hope.