news

London man cured of HIV wants to give a 'voice' to the millions lost to Aids

Adam Castillejo, 40, is just the world's second man to be cured of HIV.

2020-05-06

The 'London patient' who became just the world's second man to be cured of HIV says he wants to give a voice to the millions of people who have lost their lives to Aids.

Adam Castillejo, 40, achieved "sustained remission" from HIV in 2019 after receiving stem cell treatment for cancer using donated tissue from a person with natural immunity to HIV.

Appearing on a special two-part episode of A Gay and A Non-Gay podcast entitled ‘The London Patient: A Cure For HIV?’ Mr Castillejo - who publicly revealing his identity earlier this year - says that after "clinging to life" during the transplant, he now wants to help represent the estimated 32 million peoplewho have died from Aids since the epidemic began.

"I want to be the voice of millions of souls who have died, who were hoping to find a cure and are already gone"", Adam says. 

"We are in this together, it's happened, but have hope, never give up on hope.

He adds: "I cry when I see documentaries about the epidemic, I see people struggling. I feel the hopelessness, the sorrow and I empathise."

Venezuela-born Adam contracted HIV a year after moving to London in 2003, aged 23.

He was diagnosed Hodgkin lymphoma in 2012 and in 2016 underwent a bone marrow stem cell transplant to treat the disease using cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection.

Following the transplant, Adam stopped using the anti-retroviral drugs used by most patients to suppress HIV, and has now been in remission forover two and half years with no signs of the HIV virus in his body.

"I feel like the chosen one, and this progress cannot be in vain" he says.

"It's important for me to talk to families and say to them 'I'm here. Your brother, your sister your wife your nephew your aunty has died from this disease, but there is hope.' 'I feel what you feel.'

"I want to be the voice of them, because all of them wanted to be cured, and they didn't have a voice. I want to be the voice to say, 'We are going to get this. We are going to get a cure for everyone'."

‘The London Patient: A Cure For HIV?’ is a special two-part documentary from the award-winning A Gay and A Non-Gay podcast, host by comedians James Barr and Dan Hudson.

"We were blown away when [Adam] revealed his identity and agreed to an exclusive interview with us", the pair say.

 

"His story is so inspiring and we’re so excited to help him share it with the world.

"We live in troubled times, our series with the Wellcome Trust offers a much needed story of hope on the power of humanity to overcome."

‘The London Patient: A Cure For HIV?’ is available to stream and download now.