The case of one 18-year old French teen has taken the medical community by surprise. For twelve years, the teen has been in HIV remission without treatment.
HIV treatments are often life-lasting. There is not much hope of remission, and if it does occur, it must be kept in check with the help of drugs. Yet, that is not the case of an 18-year old from Paris, France who has not been treated since the age of 6, and whose body keep HIV in check perfectly.
The teenager has been diagnosed with HIV immediately at birth. Doctors treating the little girl suggested that she might have been infected either during the mother’s pregnancy or immediately after birth.
Nonetheless, the girl was treated with zidovudine at the time, in a short treatment. Unfortunately, the girl’s body did not respond to treatment. HIV continued to take hold of her body until another treatment was prescribed.
This time, a four-drug combo was administered to the girl until the age of 6, when doctors fully lost contact with both the mother and her. It was only one year later that the two returned, announcing the treatment had been discontinued.
Upon testing, the girl did not show any trace of HIV in her blood. Which was a real surprise for the doctors. It is still unclear what triggered this response, how could her body enter remission without the help of treatment and whether it was precisely the drug combo that had enabled the remission.
More surprisingly is that the remission lasted throughout the years, counting 12 years in 2015, without the help of drugs. The 18-year old is a study case that has been presented at the International AIDS Society conference in Vancouver, Canada.
At the same time, this is the first case of HIV remission that started in childhood and broke all records. Are other cases with a median remission time-frame of 10 years have been reported, yet they referred to adults that had been undergoing HIV treatment for most of their lives.
Sharon Lewin from the University of Melbourne, and conference attendee, stated:
“It’s always hard to know, when you have a single case report, is there something about this particular individual that’s unique? What’s in the back of people’s minds is, would this have happened anyway, independent of her treatment?”.
These are questions that are still unanswered. One hypothesis seems to bring consensus in the medical community.
That hypothesis states that the sooner treatment for HIV is started, the higher the chances for remission are.
Photo Credits skynews.com.au
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