An 18-year-old French teen who was born with AIDS is in viral remission after 12 years without treatment, an unprecedented case, according to the Associated Press.
The case was presented at the International AIDS Society conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, by Dr. Asier Saez-Cirion of the Pasteur Institute in Paris and bears similarities to a case in Mississippi, where a young girl kept her infection under control for 27 months without treatment.
The French teen, who lives near Paris but was unidentified, was infected by her mother either durning pregnancy or birth. Her mother did not have her viral load under control and did not take any HIV medication to prevent transmission to the child. The baby was given standard treatment at the time, AZT for six weeks followed by a more powerful drug combination when her HIV levels were high.
The girl remained in treatment until she was 6 years old, when doctors lost contact with her. A year later, her mother returned and told doctors she stopped giving her daughter medication, but doctors couldn't detect HIV in her system at that time so they decided not to resume treatment.
The patient only had one brief rise in viral load when she was 11 but it worked itself out without treatment.
While the teen's HIV remains undetectable, doctors cautioned that she was not "cured" of HIV; it's only in viral remission. How she has maintained her remission is still unknown but doctors suspect it was due to aggressive early treatment. The teen has none of the known genetic markers that have been linked to natural resistance to the virus, and before receiving antiretroviral treatment she was unable to suppress the virus on her own.
The case revives hope in the theory that early and aggressive treatment can limit how strongly the virus takes hold and could mean that some patients in the future could go without lifelong drug treatments.