An 18-year-old French teen born with the AIDS virus has had her infection under control and nearly undetectable despite stopping treatment 12 years ago—an unprecedented remission, doctors are reporting. The teen might have some form of natural resistance to HIV that hasn't yet been discovered. But her case revives hope that early, aggressive treatment can limit how strongly the virus takes hold, and perhaps in rare cases, let people control it without lifelong drugs. A few years ago, doctors reported a similar case: a Mississippi girl who kept HIV in check for 27 months without treatment. But then her virus rebounded, dashing hopes that early treatment might have cured her.
At least a dozen adults have had remissions for a median of 10 years after stopping HIV medicines, but the new French case is said to be the first long-lasting one that started in childhood. The case was described today at an International AIDS Society conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, by Dr. Asier Saez-Cirion of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The teen lives in the Paris area and her identity was not revealed. "This is an exciting story," but it is unknown if the remission will last, says Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, a scientist at the Pasteur Institute and a co-discoverer of HIV. Another doctor tells the Guardian that the teen "has been in virological remission for so long because she received a combination of antiretrovirals very soon after infection."