There has been a cautious welcome to news from France about remission from HIV.
A French teenager is still free from infection 12 years after she stopped treatment – the first case, it’s thought, of long-term remission in a child infected from birth.
The case raises new questions about what allows individuals to control the virus – and the benefits of early treatment.
“If we find the same characteristics with other patients, the same mechanisms, the hope is we may be able to stop treatment in the hope that they will be able to control the virus spontaneously themselves, without exposing them to any risk, “ said Dr Pierre France, a virologist at the Necker Hospital in Paris.
The 18-year-old’s remission has been attributed to receiving a combination of antiretroviral drugs soon after infection.
It is strongly emphasised that more tests are needed.
“This could be a step closer to the discovery of a vaccine, because – what’s the goal of a vaccine, basically? It must prevent infection. And this teenager has an immune system that defends her from the virus multiplying.” said Dr Jean-Francois Delfraissy, Director of the French National HIV-AIDS research agency (ANRS)
Experts agree the case supports the argument for immediate retroviral treatment for all infants born of HIV positive mothers.
An estimated 3.2 million children age 15 and under were living with AIDS at the end of 2013, according to the World Health Organization.