French teenager healthy 12 years after ceasing HIV treatment

Eighteen-year-old joins small group of patients who can control the virus after discontinuing drugs.

Infected at birth, a French teenager has lived in good health 12 years since she last took the antiretroviral drugs. This is the longest case of a pediatric HIV patient living without ill symptoms after discontinuing treatment. Scientist attribute this success to the early treatment of the illness and may help researchers better understand why some patients go into remission after discontinuing treatment.

“It’s an intriguing case, but it’s a very unique and unusual outcome,” physician and virologist Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, Maryland told Erika Check Hayden of NatureDr. Persaud also reported on a child in Mississippi born with HIV who showed a similar outcome.

This is not a cure, as the virus DNA is still present, but in a state of remission. About 1% of patients known as ‘elite controllers’ are able to control the virus without treatment. It still is not known if these rare cases are part of that ‘elite’ group, but genetic and immunological characteristics may show a difference between these cases and those patients that must continue treatment.

 

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