There was a 12 year gap between the announcement of the first and second patients whose HIV infections went into long-term remission after treatment.

But now, just two days after doctors claimed that the second patient was "HIV-free", another team is saying they've cleared the infection in a third patient - and there's a chance a fourth and a fifth might be following soon behind.

According to a New Scientist story, a team of researchers from the Netherlands announced the existence of the "Düsseldorf patient" at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle on Tuesday.

This patient underwent the same type of bone marrow transplant as the other two patients. Now, three months after they stopped taking antiviral drugs, biopsies from the patient's gut and lymph nodes show no infectious HIV, researcher Annemarie Wensing of University Medical Center Utrecht told New Scientist.

It's still far too soon to know for sure whether this third patient has actually been "cured" of HIV - or whether anyone has been cured of it at all.

Twelve years after the announcement of the first patient whose HIV went into remission, it's still impossible to know for sure that the virus isn't merely in some sort of undetectable state.

However, two other HIV patients still taking antiviral drugs have undergone the same bone marrow transplant procedure as the first three patients, Javier Martinez-Picado of Barcelona's IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute told New Scientist.

If those patients respond in the same fashion as the other three patients - with their HIV apparently eradicated - once they stop taking the antiviral drugs, the growing number of success stories might make it easier to say with confidence that doctors are closer than ever to a cure for HIV.

This article was originally published by Futurism. Read the original article.