Vox Sentences: The London Patient

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A potential new HIV treatment; Algerians protest an aging president seeking a fifth term.


The gene mutation that causes HIV resistance

 T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images
  • A cure for HIV has been a long-sought dream — and scientists might be a step closer now, according to a new paper. A patient in London with HIV who also had Hodgkin lymphoma received a stem cell transplant that contained a gene mutation for HIV resistance, and has apparently been HIV-free since September 2017. [Vox / Julia Belluz]
  • A person has been “cured” of HIV before. Timothy Ray Brown, the “Berlin patient,” has been HIV-free since 2007 when doctors used a similar bone marrow transplant treatment. The London patient needs to be in remission for 18 months in order to be considered cured. A full cure means the mutated CCR5 protein in the transplanted cells will guard against HIV infecting any of his T-cells and replace existing cells that aren’t immune. [Live Science / Rachael Rettner]
  • Bone marrow transplants aren’t likely to become a widespread cure for HIV, but the paper suggests possibilities for gene therapy, which has been tested but has not yet been successful. [NYT / Apoorva Mandavilli]
  • Since most people with HIV don’t also have cancer, their treatment would not call for the radiation and chemotherapy the London and Berlin patients received prior to the bone marrow transplant. [Nature / Matthew Warren]
  • Advances in HIV treatment have made the disease a chronic illness rather than a death sentence. People with HIV and people without HIV live approximately the same amount of time. There’s vast inequality in who gets access to HIV treatment, though. [The Conversation / Allison Webel]
  • The London patient now joins an exclusive club of two. When Brown was profiled in 2011, he said his two stem cell transplants left him with neurological damage — a reminder that even a “miracle cure” is rarely uncomplicated. [NYMag / Tina Rosenberg]

Algerians say their president’s concessions aren’t enough

  • Algeria is in the midst of its biggest protests since the 2011 Arab Spring, a movement that wants the country’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, almost paralyzed and mute due to a stroke, to step down after 20 years in office. His party, FLN, has ruled Algeria since the country’s independence from France in 1962. [NYT / Adam Nossiter]
  • Protesters confronted police on Monday when authorities fired tear gas into crowds. In one case, demonstrators set a social security office on fire. Young people say the wealth from Algeria’s lucrative natural gas industry has not been shared and accuse Bouteflika’s regime of corruption. The president’s health conditions often take him abroad for medical checks; he has not been seen in public since his stroke in 2013. [Associated Press / Aomar Ouali]
  • The movement has garnered an international response. Paris showed solidarity with Algeria, and French patriots gathered in Marseille and Toulouse. Demonstrators also assembled in Union Square in New York City and San Francisco’s Civic Center on Sunday. Fear of repeating Algeria’s gruesome 1990s civil war had discouraged protests against Bouteflika, until now. [Al Jazeera]
  • The civil war followed Algeria’s independence at the end of the century and has frequently been used as a political tool to discourage citizens from pressuring the government. Now younger generations facing high employment rates are ready for new leadership. [NPR / Shannon Van Sant]
  • Political, military, and business elites run Algeria in Bouteflika’s name — and continue to support his regime in order to maintain their power. Bouteflika’s campaign manager promised the president would call for early elections if he were to win again on April 18, but the powerful coalition didn’t give a date for said elections. [Vox / Alex Ward]

Miscellaneous

  • Top T-Mobile executives spent $195,000 at Trump’s Washington hotel while bargaining a merger with Sprint. The telecommunications giant admitted this in a letter to Congress — and it still needs the approval of the FCC and the Trump administration for the merger. [The Verge / Shannon Liao]
  • Federal disaster money benefits rich people more than low-income people or minorities in America. The government tries to minimize taxpayer risk when allocating aid, meaning that rich people get more money and inequality is worsened by disasters. [NPR / Rebecca Hersher and Robert Benincasa]
  • 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar reportedly “demeaned and berated” her staff. Accounts of the Minnesota senator’s leadership style have started a conversation about female rage. [Atlantic / Caitlin Flanagan]
  • Fake news is getting harder to track. As the White House faces accusations of working too closely with Fox News, the difference between political messaging and journalism is more confusing than ever. [Axios / Sara Fischer]
  • Steve Bannon’s plans for Europe haven’t yet taken flight — but Trump’s former chief strategist is still optimistic about boosting the far right across the continent in a plan known as “the Movement.” As the 2019 European elections near, populist parties are actually distancing themselves from the American. [Politico Europe / Maїa de la Baume and Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli]

Verbatim

“It’s not my position to tell people how to feel, or that their hurt is invalid. But incidents like these do beg the question: where are the resolutions against homophobic statements? For anti-blackness? For xenophobia? For a member saying he’ll ‘send Obama home to Kenya?’” [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Twitter one day before the House votes on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in reaction to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about pro-Israel advocates]


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