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FRANCE - Canada

French teen born with HIV in remission 12 years on

Antiretrovirals used in the treatement of HIV/Aids.
Antiretrovirals used in the treatement of HIV/Aids. AFP

A French teenager born with HIV has been in remission for 12 years after stopping her medication, a world first that renews hope for the prospect of early treatment. Never before have scientists known of a case in which an HIV-infected child goes into long-term remission. 

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The young woman, now 18, is not considered cured but is doing perfectly well off treatment, Asier Saez-Cirion of the HIV, Inflammation and Persistence Unit at the Institut Pasteur in Paris told the press Monday.

The announcement was made during the International Aids Society meeting, which runs until Wednesday in the western Canadian city of Vancouver.

The young woman, whose identity has not been revealed, was infected with HIV either in utero or during childbirth. 

She only underwent a treatment programme for the first five years of her life. 

Saez-Cirion stated that the patient had been in virological remission for so long because she received a combination of antiretrovirals very soon after infection.

"We can detect HIV in the cells but what we cannot detect is viral replication in the plasma," Saez-Cirion said in an interview. "We don't know yet why this girl was able to control the infection." 

Researchers said the unconventional case bolsters growing evidence in adults that starting treatment immediately after HIV infection is essential. 

Specialists like Dr Pierre Frange, a paediatrician at the Necker hospital in Paris, say this is a particularly interesting case. 

"This example can now be compared to a case seen two years ago involving patients infected during adulthood, who were treated very early on after their contamination and who, after several years of treatment, managed to spontaneously control their virus," he explained.

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