• France's news in English

French teen born with HIV stuns scientists

AFP · 21 Jul 2015, 08:19

Published: 21 Jul 2015 08:19 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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

Never before have scientists known of a case in which an HIV-infected child goes into long-term remission, said the study presented at the International AIDS Society meeting in this western Canadian city.

"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."

The girl does not have the genetic factors associated with natural control of infection, which has been seen in a rare group of patients.

"Most likely, she has been in virological remission for so long because she received a combination of antiretrovirals very soon after infection," said the report.

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

When she was five, her family dropped out of the treatment program for unknown reasons. When they returned her to medical care one year later, she "was found to have an undetectable viral load," said the report.

Doctors decided not to resume antiretroviral treatment for the child, but monitored her.

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

Her case "suggests that long-term remission after early treatment is possible in children infected by HIV," said the report.

Single case

There was a previous case of a baby who was born with HIV in the US state of Mississippi and went into an extended remission, but her case lasted only 27 months after antiretroviral therapy was stopped.

So researchers urged caution in interpreting the results, and said doctors do not recommend anyone stop their antiretroviral treatment.

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

The meeting has drawn more than 6,000 HIV professionals from around the world.

"My reservations are, it's a single case," Lewin told AFP.

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

The girl's case may not be unique, but it is the first identified by researchers, said Saez-Cirion.

Story continues below…

"I'm sure there will be others in the future," he said, noting there are still relatively few studies of children infected at birth who are now young adults and have been monitored for their entire lives.

Lewin cautioned that no one should become complacent about finding a cure in the face of growing evidence showing it is possible to treat HIV.

"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," said Lewin.

"Whether we can really fund that, sustain and keep people in lifelong care is unclear."

Saez-Cirion said the findings offer direction for future research.

The case "shows that remission is possible, but rare. We need to understand why it's not common, and which mechanisms are (involved) so that we can treat a larger population."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French cheer police, reviving Charlie spirit
French police officers on Saturday demonstrated for the fifth night in a row to protest mounting attacks on officers. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

Angry French police have taken to the streets for five nights in a row -- and Parisians have started to cheer them on, reviving scenes last seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson turns popcorn girl in Paris
US actress Scarlett Johansson greets customers at the Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop in the Marais district of Paris. Photo: Benjamin Cremel / AFP

Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson swapped the red carpet for a turn behind the counter at her new popcorn shop in Paris on Saturday.

US couple donates huge art collection to Paris
Marlene (centre) and Spencer (right) are donating their collection ‘for the benefit of art lovers’. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

A Texan couple who discovered their love for art during a trip to Paris in the 1970s are to donate the multi-million dollar collection they have amassed since to the French capital.

France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available