Adam Castillejo will be a name that will forever go down in history. The Venezuelan ex-pat that is living in London, England, officially stepped forward to reveal that he was the patient known as the “London Patient” — one of two people reportedly cured of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (also known as HIV).
Until recently, very little was known about Adam as he feared the scrutiny that he would receive once news broke that he was one of the two patients that showed “long-term remission” of HIV. Adam revealed in an interview with the New York Times that the reason he wanted to come forward and reveal his identity was because he wanted to be an “ambassador of hope” and tell the world his story.
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A year after the “London Patient” was introduced to the world as only the 2nd person to be cured of HIV, he is revealing his identity: Adam Castillejo. “I want to be an ambassador of hope,” he said. Adam had been living with the virus since 2003, when he received his diagnosis at age 23. Later, he was found to have cancer, and received a bone-marrow transplant. The main goal of the treatment was to replace his immune system and fight his cancer. But the donor also carried a mutation that impedes the entry of HIV into cells, so Adam’s new immune system was resistant to the virus. He is now HIV- and cancer-free. Tap the link in our bio for Adam’s story. Photo by @andrew_testa
The Latino, who was born in Caracas to a father of Spanish and Dutch descent, was raised by his mother and both are now living in London. Adam received the diagnosis at the age of 23 while temporarily living in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2003. In 2011, Adam also received the news that he had stage 4 lymphoma, which he recalled as “another death sentence.”
Dr. Simon Edwards, a liaison between both of his medical teams revealed, “Each time his oncologists adjusted his cancer treatment, the infectious-disease doctors had to recalibrate his H.I.V. medications.” It wasn’t until about 2014 and 2015 that Adam was able to find a bit of hope through the way of London-based Dr. Ian Gabriel, a specialist in bone-marrow transplants. Dr. Gabriel was upfront with Adam about how his Latino roots “might complicate the search for a donor.”
Luckily for Adam, his Dutch ancestry on his father’s side was able to link to several donor matches with a similar genetic profile, one of which was an incredibly crucial match — “a German [donor] who carried a crucial mutation called delta 32 that hinders H.I.V. infection.” Adam was able to receive the much needed transplant on May 13, 2016. From then on, Adam was on a cautious and arduous road to recovery.
He spent months in the hospital, having received multiple operations. Upon being released, the only physical activity that Adam could partake in was walking. In 2017, the Caracas-born Venezuelan received his final dose of antiretrovirals (for his HIV) and in March 2019 his doctors announced his cure.