This rare event presented atthe HIV-AIDS conference in Vancouver represents the longest remission of a patient infected at birth with HIV. Medicalexperts believe early treatment was the key to control the infection.Otherwise, they insist the French teenage girl is notcured. She still has the virus in her, but it did not manifest itself for alittle over a decade.

Remission is characterized by thedecrease or complete extinction of chronic diseases symptoms throughout a spanof time. It is often associated with cancers through the stabilization of tumorcells.

Upon finding the girl wasinfected because of her mother transmission, she received a prophylactictreatment with zidovudine. Two months later, she had to follow a heaviertreatment with four antiretroviral drugs since her viral levels skyrocketed.Then, her parents decided to stop the treatment while not consulting thedoctors altogether.

A year after the treatment’sinterruption, the doctors were surprised to see the viral load was undetectable in her blood as described by Dr. AsierSaez-Cirion. Today, the girl’s immune defense system is still able to controlthe virus. Therefore she has been in remission for 12 years.

Dr. Asier Saez-Cirion said thegirl “does not have the genetic factors associated with a natural control ofthe infection” bolstering the fact that “the combination of antiretroviraldrugs following her infection has enabled her to be in remission for so long.”

            The infection control represented by an undetectable viral load does not mean the girl may not carry the virus to her child during pregnancy (the risks are "only" minimized by 95% according to experts). She would unlikely transmit HIV to her child, but this remains a possibility.  

In a 2013 report, a team ofexperts led by Dr. Christine Rouzioux and Dr. Asier Saez-Cirion from InstitutPasteur de Paris came to the conclusion that 14 patients had been in remission for8 years thanks to the early treatment which strengthened their immune defensesystem and prevented the infection from spreading. This week’s findings seem to highlight the importance of automatic screeningtests and antiretroviral drugs treatment.

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