A French 18-year-old girl has survived a HIV infection which went untreated for twelve years. She maintains undetectable levels of the virus in her blood, which is referred to as remission.
Researchers at an AIDS conference were the first to report the so-called miracle. It is thought that the girl, who was last treated when she was six, might have gained a natural resistance to the illness.
She has revived hope for a "functional" cure, which means that the virus can be kept at a low level without continuing treatment.
Asier Sáez-Cirión from the Pasteur Institute in Paris, conducted the research and said: "This is the first time that long-term remission has been shown in children, or adolescents."
The scientist presented the findings at the 8th IAS conference on HIV pathogenesis, treatment and prevention held in Vancouver.
The reason behind her long-term remission could possibly be traced back to the treatment she had as a child. Her virus was first spotted when she was four-weeks-old and she was given a standard anti-retroviral medication for six weeks.
Then at the age of three months she began receiving a powerful regimen of four drugs which were continuous until just before she turned six when her family discontinued the combination therapy.
She was tested a year later after discontinuing the treatment and no virus was detected in her blood.
The conference report stated: "Most likely, she has been in virological remission for so long because she received a combination of antiretrovirals very soon after infection."
Scientist Sharon Lewin, who spoke at the conference about finding a cure for HIV, cautioned that no one should become complacent about finding a cure for the disease.
She said: "The reality is there are still two million new infections and 1.5 million deaths a year from HIV and 35 million living with HIV."