Science magazine covers the caveats in the AIDS story from earlier this week about the man who has reportedly been cured of the infection in Germany. Not so fast, according to Science. Here's an excerpt:
As with every previous cure story, however, this one has a long list of caveats. A true cure, for example, would mean that an infected person has become virus-free. But, as the man's doctor, Gero Hütter, acknowledged at a recent meeting on viral persistence and eradication held by the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), low levels of HIV can escape detection by all but the most sensitive tests, and these tests have not yet been done on the patient's blood. Every time "cured" people's blood has been examined with these techniques in the past, researchers have found the virus. Indeed, participants at the amfAR meeting agreed to dub the man only "functionally" cured: It's possible, if not likely, that he harbors the virus in tiny quantities in cells that were not ablated before his transplant.