KUALA LUMPUR: A cure for HIV seems to have moved a step closer after two patients were freed of the virus thanks to bone marrow transplants.

The HIV-positive men, who had the stem cell implants to fight blood cancer, have shown no signs of the virus returning and have both stopped taking anti-retroviral drugs.

Researcher Timothy Henrich said: ‘They are doing very well. While these results are exciting, they do not yet indicate that the men have been cured. Only time will tell.’

One of the patients ended his course of anti-retrovirals 15 weeks ago but was still showing no signs of the HIV returning.

The other also appeared to be HIV-free after seven weeks without the drugs.

Both of the men will have their cells, plasma and tissue tested for at least a year to give more of an idea of the implants’ effect on the virus.

The doctors fear it could be lying dormant in their bodies and reappear.

Kevin Robert Frost, chief executive of The Foundation Of AIDS Research said the findings could change the shape of HIV and gene therapy.–MN