NOTE: The open letter below was originally published on Facebook Fan Page of Ray Flores and reprinted with Dr. Posey’s permission.
I just responded to the author of an article from Upworthy that is circulating the web through social media. The article is titled “Doctors Take A Long Shot And Inject HIV Into Dying Girl. The Reason Why Will Amaze You.” The media has a tendency to sensationalize the news and we often find ourselves believing what we read, so I want to clarify the assertion made by this article because I find the title to be misleading and troublesome.
It is true that the therapy developed in my lab that has treated and cured leukemia in approximately 12 patients. However, it is not entirely true that this treatment is done with HIV. The truth is that we only use parts of the HIV virus that are necessary to insert DNA into other cells (like T cells in this case). This virus is only able to insert into a cell once, cannot replicate, and does not inactivate patient CD4 cells like HIV does. The patient is not HIV+ after therapy.
The real work of this cure is the DNA that we insert into the patient T cells. It is a special and novel gene that does not exist in nature. The new gene enables the T cells to now find and kill the patient’s tumor cells based on a molecule they can now see on the surface of those tumor cells. This is why the therapy works. It has nothing to do with the use of parts of the HIV virus.
As a member of an ethnic community that has been preyed upon by the medical community, I find it terrible to suggest that any doctor would intentionally infect someone with HIV. No medical professional would use HIV to treat anyone; Tuskegee shall never be repeated.
As a member of a social community that has been victimized by HIV and still deals with the stigma of HIV, I am disturbed by the possibilities that could arise from articles with such sensational titles. HIV does not cure cancer.
Thank you for allowing me to clarify misconceptions reported and circulating the web. Please share this and help dispel the rumors if possible. If anyone is interested in learning more, they are welcome to inbox me.
Avery D. Posey, Jr., Ph.D.
This commentary is not written on the behalf of any company or institution. The article is linked.
NOTE: The above open letter is a re-post of a social media response from Dr. Posey