British specialists have appealed to a man who tested positive for HIV but claims to have cleared the virus to return for further tests so that they can discover what really happened.
Andrew Stimpson told two British newspapers on Sunday he was “one of the luckiest people alive.” The 25-year-old Scottish sandwich maker added: “All the doctors have told me it is a medical miracle that I am clear.”
According to the reports, Stimpson had been diagnosed HIV-positive in 2002 but was found to be negative in October 2003 by Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust in London.
He sought compensation but was told there was no case to answer because there was no fault with the testing procedure.
A spokeswoman for the Trust in London confirmed that one of its patients had tested negative for HIV about 14 months after testing positive in May 2002.
“He did test positive and then later negative, but in terms of curing himself, we don’t know because he hasn’t been back for further tests,” said the spokeswoman. “We very much want him to return so we can try to find out what exactly has happened,” she added.
Scientists cite anecdotal accounts from Africa of people eliminating HIV but say they have never seen firm evidence.
The hospital spokeswoman said subsequent DNA checks proved there had been no mix-up in the identity of the patient and the HIV tests but said she did not know whether there could have been any other error in the original test.
Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, told the BBC: “This appears to be a highly unusual case and without further tests it is impossible to draw any conclusions for people living with HIV.
“The virus is extremely complex and there are many unknowns about how it operates and how people’s bodies react to it. Therefore, if this case were able to shed further light, it could be extremely valuable for research into treatments or a cure.”
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD