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Daily Skimm: HIV Breakthrough, Prince Andrew, and Virgin Galactic

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin holds up a copy of the California State medical examination form for sexual assault victims as he speaks during a press conference at his office on February 15, 2022 in San Francisco, California.
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Feb 16, 2022

An HIV Breakthrough

The Story

new treatment may have cured a woman of HIV. 

Sorry, I’m going to read that again. 

Yesterday, scientists said a woman who received treatment in New York hasn’t shown any signs of HIV for over 14 months. Doctors remain cautious and consider her to be in remission. But she could be the third or fourth person ever — and first woman — to have been cured of the virus by scientists. 

How’d it happen?

In 2017, the woman — also battling leukemia — received two transplants to help fight her HIV and cancer. Doctors gave her umbilical cord blood from a donor. And stem cells from a relative to boost her immune system. The donor cord blood had a mutation that blocks HIV. But it wasn’t an exact match.

And it worked?

It seems like it. Three years after her transplant, the woman stopped antiretroviral therapy — an HIV treatment to reduce the amount of virus in the body. Some doctors reportedly say that cells from cord blood are naturally more adaptable to a new environment because they’re newborn cells. But this transplant may have saved her from going through with a risky and invasive bone marrow transplant used on two other HIV patients who’ve been cured. 


There's more: Women make up over 50% of the nearly 38 million HIV cases in the world. But reportedly only account for 11% of participants in cure trials. That means women are largely underrepresented. And HIV’s a virus that can affect women differently than men. But that's not all. 

Go on.

She's also mixed race. Important, because Black Americans make up over 40% of HIV cases in the US. But the majority of donors in registries are white. So, allowing a partial match opens up the donor pool to people of color who may have been left out. But doctors say the stem cell strategy may only help people fighting cancer and HIV.


Millions of people live with HIV every day. And while treatment options make it easier for HIV-positive people to have normal lives, the world is still in need of a cure. 

And Also...This

Who wants to put this story away...

Prince Andrew. Yesterday, the royal reached a settlement in a civil sexual assault case. In August, Virginia Giuffre sued the prince, accusing him of sexually assaulting her on three separate occasions when she was 17 — including on Jeffrey Epstein's private island. Now, after repeatedly denying responsibility, Andrew has agreed to make a “substantial donation” to Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights. He acknowledged her as an "established victim of abuse" who suffered because of "unfair public attacks." But still isn't admitting to assault. A lawyer for Giuffre said the moment “speaks for itself."

  • Not feeling jubilant: The deal avoided a trial that could have further embarrassed the monarchy. And Buckingham Palace isn't commenting as it looks like the Queen won't touch this story with a 10-foot scepter. But people are asking ‘where’s the settlement money coming...taxpayers?'

Who’s seeing some justice…

Families of the Sandy Hook victims. Yesterday, they announced a landmark $73 million settlement. In 2012, a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults in Newtown, CT, using a Remington Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle. Two years later, families sued the manufacturer and spent years battling a US law that protects gun manufacturers from being held liable in crimes involving their products. Now, a gunmaker has agreed to a major settlement in a US mass shooting. An attorney for the families hopes the victory will be part of an "avalanche" of change in the gun industry and for everyone involved.

Who’s facing fallout…

Alec Baldwin. Yesterday, the family of the late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the actor and others involved in the film “Rust.” In October, Baldwin fired a prop gun killing the 42-year-old and injuring the director. Now, Hutchins’ family is blaming reckless behavior and cost-cutting for her death. Baldwin has denied responsibility for her death and his attorney said any claim he was reckless is “entirely false.”

Who's saying 'get in rich people, we're going to space’... 

Virgin Galactic

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