Scientists have cured a woman with HIV for the first time.

A group of U.S. researchers have used a new method of stem cell trans­plan­ta­tion that they hope could be giv­en to dozens of peo­ple each year.

The woman, who is mixed race, is the third per­son to be cured of HIV. Sci­en­tists announced Tues­day that the method, which involves the use of umbil­i­cal cord blood, could lead to the cure of more racial­ly diverse peo­ple than pre­vi­ous­ly thought.

The sup­ply of cord blood is greater than that of adult stem cells, which are typ­i­cal­ly used in bone mar­row trans­plants, and cord blood also does not need to be as close­ly matched to the patient. Most donors are white, which means a par­tial match could cure dozens of peo­ple with both can­cer and HIV in the Unit­ed States each year, The New York Times reported.

The cured woman also had leukemia, and she received cord blood to treat it, which came from a par­tial match donor. The usu­al prac­tice is to find a bone mar­row donor of sim­i­lar race and eth­nic­i­ty to the patient. The woman also received blood from a close rel­a­tive to tem­porar­i­ly boost her body’s immune sys­tem while the trans­plant took hold.

Dr. Steven Deeks, an AIDS spe­cial­ist at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cis­co, said that “the fact that she’s mixed race and she’s a woman, that’s real­ly impor­tant sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly and real­ly impor­tant in terms of impact on the com­mu­ni­ty,” The New York Times reported.

Women make up the major­i­ty of HIV cas­es world­wide, but rep­re­sent only 11 per­cent of par­tic­i­pants in cure tri­als. The dis­ease is thought to devel­op dif­fer­ent­ly in men and women.

But Dr. Deeks added that he did not believe the new treat­ment would become wide­ly used. “These are sto­ries of inspi­ra­tion in the field and maybe the roadmap,” he said.

Near­ly 38 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide are liv­ing with HIV, and about 73 per­cent of them are receiv­ing treat­ment, often via pow­er­ful anti­retro­vi­ral drugs that can con­trol the virus. Most of them can­not under­go a bone mar­row trans­plant because the pro­ce­dure is inva­sive and risky.

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