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Teen’s HIV Under Control 12 Years After Stopping Drug Tx

Girl is in remission of infection but she is still infected, not cured

TUESDAY, July 21, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A French teen born with HIV has the disease under control even though she stopped treatment 12 years ago, according to doctors. Asier Saez-Cirion, M.D., of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, presented the case Monday at the International AIDS Society 2015 Conference, held from June 19 to 22 in Vancouver, Canada, the Associated Press reported.

The unidentified teen — who lives in Paris — may have some form of natural resistance to HIV that has not yet been discovered. While at least a dozen adults with HIV have had remissions for a median of 10 years after they stopped taking HIV medicines, doctors say the French girl is the first to have long-lasting remission that began in childhood.

The girl’s mother did not have her HIV under control while pregnant, and the girl was infected either before or during birth. The girl was given the HIV drug zidovudine (AZT) for six weeks, followed by a more powerful four-drug combination. She kept taking HIV drugs until she was nearly 6, when doctors lost contact with her. When doctors saw her again a year later, the girl’s mother said she had stopped giving her daughter the HIV drugs. However, doctors could not detect HIV in her blood so they decided not to restart drug treatment, the AP reported. Since then, the girl’s HIV levels have remained below a detection threshold, with the exception of a brief rise when she was 11 that cleared up without drug treatment. Very sensitive tests show extremely low levels of HIV.

“This girl is in remission of infection but she is infected” and not cured, Saez-Cirion noted, the AP reported. He explained that the girl doesn’t have any of the gene variants or other biomarkers known to provide natural control or protection from HIV infection, and her body could not suppress the virus on its own before she started taking the powerful drug combination. These factors suggest that early drug treatment is responsible for her HIV remission, Saez-Cirion said.

Health Highlights: July 21, 2015

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