French teen in long-term, drug-free HIV remission

21 Jul 2015

A French teenager born with HIV has been declared free from infection a full 12 years after stopping her treatments.

Initially treated with a drug “designed to prevent the infection from taking hold”, she then stayed on a “powerful cocktail” of anti-HIV drugs until she was six, according to Reuters.

Presented at the International AIDS Society’s 2015 congress in Vancouver, it was revealed that the girl in question does not share the genetic factors typically associated with individuals who are naturally able to control HIV infection.

Dr Asier Sáez-Cirión of the Institut Pasteur “attributes” her results to early adoption of antiretroviral drugs soon after infection.

The teenager is not considered to be cured but is doing perfectly well without any treatment, the conference heard.

This, it seems, is the theme of the congress, with Julio Montaner, IAS 2015 local co-chair, claiming this year’s edition will be remembered as “the definitive moment when the world agreed earlier initiation of treatment is the best way to preserve the health of people living with HIV”.

In 2014, a three-year-old boy in Milan, Italy, who was thought to be cured of HIV after intensive anti-viral treatment, relapsed.

He followed the ‘Mississippi baby’, an infant girl who had also been thought to be cured of HIV following drug treatment. Born to a HIV-positive mother, the baby began to receive three standard HIV-fighting drugs at just 30 hours old.

Subsequent tests showed levels of the virus undetectable 29 days after birth. Doctors continued to treat the girl for about 18 months but, after two years without drugs, tests revealed she still had HIV.

Lasting remission has also been seen in a group of 14 French patients known as the Visconti cohort, explains Reuters, who started treatment on antiretroviral drugs within 10 weeks of becoming infected, and stayed on the drugs for an average of three years.

After stopping treatment, the majority had levels of the virus so low they were undetectable for more than seven years.

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic