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Child fights HIV to a draw


An 18-year-old woman in France who became infected with HIV as a baby went off antiretroviral drugs 12 years ago and the virus has yet to return to detectable levels on standard blood tests. The woman is not cured, stressed the Pasteur Institute’s Asier Sáez-Cirión, who presented details about the case at an international AIDS conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada, this week: His group found HIV DNA in her blood cells and prodded them to make new copies of the virus. Sáez-Cirión has been following a small cohort of other so-called “posttreatment controllers,” but the other all became infected with the virus as adults. He noted that the woman, like other posttreatment controllers, was distinct from the 1% of people known as elite controllers who similarly maintain undetectable plasma levels of HIV without treatment. But the elite controllers, in contrast to posttreatment controllers, keep the virus in check from the earliest days of the infection and have an immune response in many cases that explains how they thwart the virus. The hope is that this new case can help clarify how posttreatment controllers keep the virus in check and then use this information to inform both cure and vaccine research.

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