LONDON (AFP) – A British man is believed to have become the first person in the world to get rid of the HIV virus.
Andrew Stimpson, 25, was diagnosed as HIV-positive in August 2002. However, tests 14 months later showed that the virus had completely gone from his body, despite taking no medication to combat it.
His doctors are adamant there were no mix-ups with his tests and the sandwich maker will now offer his body for medical research to help doctors in their quest to find a cure for HIV, which leads to full-blown AIDS.
"I remember after the repeat tests my doctor came into the room saying, ”You”ve cured yourself! This is unbelievable, you”re fantastic!”
"It”s so amazing to think that one day I was staring death in the face and now I am waving it goodbye," he told the News of the World Sunday.
The Mail on Sunday reported that in two previous cases of "spontaneous clearance", it was impossible to prove that both the positive and negative tests came from the same person.
Stimpson was all the more surprised given that on hearing he had tested HIV positive, he gave up safe sex with his infected boyfriend, 44-year-old Juan Gomez.
On hearing of the negative tests, he considered sueing his hospital with this in mind over what he thought must have been bungled earlier tests.
The hospital launched an investigation and Stimpson received a letter last month saying that DNA testing had confirmed it was his blood in all the samples.
"There had been no error in the labelling or testing of the samples", it added.
Both newspapers printed the letter from the National Health Service Litigation Authority.
"The fact that you have recovered from a positive antibody result to a negative result is exceptional and medically remarkable," the letter read.
"I understand the (hospital authority) Trust have written to you highlighting your importance to other HIV patients."
Stimpson said: "I will do anything I can if it will help find a cure for HIV."
Dr George Kinghorn, an HIV specialist from Sheffield”s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said Stimpson could provide vital clues in the battle to beat AIDS.
"For an individual to have been infected with a virus, cleared of it and then become antibody negative is highly unusual.
"If we can better understand what happened inside Andrew”s body it could prove to be a step towards a breakthrough in beating the HIV virus."
Stimpson, from the Scottish coast west of Glasgow, went for tests in May 2002 after feeling weak and feverish. They came back negative. However, the virus can take three months to appear in the blood after contraction.
Tests in August that year found an exceptionally low level of HIV anti-bodies.
Because he was in the early stages, he did not require medication, but doctors were surprised by his continuing good health.
Repeat tests in October 2003 and ever since have come back negative.