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14 Adults 'Cured' of HIV Says French Study

Just two weeks after US doctors announced a new-born baby was ‘functionally cured’ of HIV, it appears the same treatment has worked on 14 full-grown men and women. The discovery was made at the Pasteur Institute in France and the study reports that the 14 ‘functionally cured’ adults still have the deadly virus in their system, but the virus is so weak their own immune systems are easily able to keep it in check. Due to the patients receiving rapid treatment after early diagnosis, they are no longer are at risk of developing AIDS — the deadly second phase of the HIV infection.

A spokesman for the institute said, “It’s not eradication, but they can clearly live without pills for a very long period of time.”

The Pasteur Institute’s unit for regulation of retroviral infections study was led by Asier Sáez-Cirión, who studied a group of 70 people who began a course of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) between 35 days and 10 weeks after becoming infected with the HIV virus.

The 70 patients took the retroviral drugs for an average of three years before stopping treatment completely. Although a majority of the patients relapsed when their treatment was interrupted, four women and 10 men who are known as the ‘Visconti cohort’ were able to stay off the ARVs without the virus resurging, aka being ‘functionally cured’ of the virus.

Traces of HIV remain in their blood, but they are at such low levels that their body can keep it in check without drugs. The incredible part is that the 14 adults have been off their medications for an average of seven years, and one person has gone 10.5 years without drugs.

Dr Saez-Cirion said: "There are three benefits to early treatment. It limits the reservoir of HIV that can persist, limits the diversity of the virus and preserves the immune response to the virus that keeps it in check."

Andrew Ball, senior adviser on HIV/AIDS strategy at the World Health Organization, said "This whole idea is fascinating, and we’ve been looking very closely at issues of early initiation of treatment, and the potential for functional cures."

Further analysis showed that the 14 adults were not super-controllers, meaning they were not the 1 per cent of the population that is naturally resistant to HIV, because they lacked the necessary protective genes. Natural controllers also rapidly suppress their infections, whereas members of the ‘Visconti cohort’ had severe symptoms which led to their early treatment.

“Paradoxically, doing badly helped them do better later,” Sáez-Cirión said.

“The big challenge is identifying people very early in their infection,” said Ball, adding that many people resist testing because of the stigma and potential discrimination. “There’s a good rationale for being tested early, and the latest results may give some encouragement to do that.”

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by Anonymousreply 1103/15/2013

We are almost there...this will probably be the decade we find a cure!!

by Anonymousreply 103/15/2013

This is misleading, and unlike the case with the baby. These adults still have traces of HIV in their blood, while the baby has none. Yes, it's still hopeful, since their bodies have learned how to control the ailment with drugs, but a true cure would involve eradication or even full dormancy (no blood circulation) within the body.

by Anonymousreply 203/15/2013

Traces of all viruses remain in your body after major infections, your body needs these dormant copies to remember how to fight reinfection. They have been off their meds for 7+ years without reinfection. So what is your definition of a cure?

by Anonymousreply 303/15/2013

R2 that baby you referred to has trace amounts of HIV

by Anonymousreply 403/15/2013

So can they still pass the virus via sex to someone else?

Serious question.

by Anonymousreply 503/15/2013

R5 Ive heard if the virus count is very low the risk of transmission is much lower. I think you can still transfer it as long as you are infected.

The cure i think the study is referring to is the fact that the patients can live without taking drugs and not having to worry about dying from the disease it looks like.

by Anonymousreply 603/15/2013

In those other cases, the immune cells remember the virus, R3, but there aren't necessarily live viruses still coursing through the blood. That would be my definition of a cure.

by Anonymousreply 703/15/2013

I think this is a pathway for an ultimate 'cure' and i think most people forget that the medications that hiv patients take cause very severe side effects in some cases and even death from complications such as a cancer diagnosis etc. So this is a huge breakthrough

by Anonymousreply 803/15/2013

Yes, I agree, R8 - this is definitely a big step in the right direction. The 'cure' label is misleading - we need to be careful to understand exactly what's going on in this case.

by Anonymousreply 903/15/2013

Great news! Im sure this is going to give a lot of hope to many around the world

by Anonymousreply 1003/15/2013

We need more good news like this. I read a study not too long ago about hiv spreading even faster now in the US.

by Anonymousreply 1103/15/2013
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