LIFESTYLE

Teenager Born With HIV In Remission For 12 Years, Despite Stopping Medication

21/07/2015 11:01 BST | Updated 21/07/2015 11:59 BST

In a world first, a French teenager who was born with HIV is in remission, having stopped taking medication for the disease 12 years ago.

The 18-year-old, who's identity remains confidential, is the first person in recorded history to have gone into long-term remission from having the disease at birth.

The news brings hope to people suffering from HIV and those who are working to find a cure around the world, but some experts are warning that this is just one case and far more research around the subject is needed.

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Doctors presented the details of the French teenager's case at an International AIDS Society (IAS) conference in Vancouver on Monday.

The young woman was infected with HIV from her mother, either towards the end of pregnancy or during childbirth, they confirmed.

The teen does not have the genetic factors associated with natural control of infection that have previously been investigated.

After she was born, the girl was given the standard six weeks of treatment, but also received four additional anti-retroviral drugs aged three months.

Her family decided to stop the treatment when she was almost six years old for reasons that are unknown, but twelve years later, the virus levels in her bloodstream are too low to be measured.

"It's likely that this girl has been in virological remission for so long because she received a combination of anti-retrovirals very soon after infection," Dr Asier Saez-Cirion from the Institut Pasteur in Paris said, according to the BBC.

"With this first, highly documented case of this young woman, we provide the proof of concept that long-term remission is possible in children, as in adults. However, these cases are still very rare. The woman is living normally. Her case is unique but had gone unnoticed, even among clinicians in France."

Scientist Sharon Lewin, who co-chaired a talk earlier this week on finding a cure for HIV, told the Telegraph "the case is going to be inspiring for people living with HIV and working in the field".

"My reservations are, it's a single case," she added.

"It's also uncertain whether the teen would have controlled (her HIV infection) without any treatment. We know 1% of people who become infected naturally control the virus and don't require treatment."

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