A London man revealed last year to be the second-ever person to be HIV-free has publicly identified himself.
Adam Castillejo, 40, told the New York Times he calls himself “LP” — or London Patient — and has launched a Twitter account as an “ambassador of hope” to speak about his experience and provide support to other people with HIV.
In March last year, doctors said Castillejo — who was anonymous at the time — received a bone marrow transplant intended to treat his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Castillejo was first diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and was told in 2011 that he had Stage 4 lymphoma. The cancer diagnosis affected his HIV treatment, and his HIV status complicated his cancer treatment.
Bone-marrow transplants are occasionally used to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but the procedure has rarely been done with cancer patients who also have HIV.
In 2015, per the Times, he underwent an experimental bone marrow transplant with a doctor, Ian Gabriel, who works with patients who have HIV. They were able to find a donor that matched, and also had a genetic mutation known as CCR5-delta 32 that allows HIV resistance.
The process took place in 2016, and Castillejo endured a series of complications, including hearing loss and drastic weight loss.
But after months of recovery, he stopped taking his antiretroviral medication in September of 2017. Nearly three years later, the virus hasn’t returned.
The treatment was not conventional, and Castillejo is still undergoing studies so that researchers can learn more about the complexities of HIV and cancer treatment.
A month before the Times story published Castillejo tweeted he hoped his case would allow for a “a more achievable cure in the future.”
The first patient to be cured of HIV, Berlin patient Timothy Ray Brown, underwent two bone-marrow transplants also for cancer treatments, took a cocktail of drugs and experienced life-threatening complications, but survived.
Contributing: Ashley May, USA TODAY. Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote