Long-acting injections could replace daily HIV pill

This case was described by researchers at the International AIDS Conference in Paris.

A South African child who was diagnosed with HIV as an infant has suppressed the virus for the past 8 1/2 years without treatment, researchers said.

A South African child has been in remission from HIV, without signs or symptoms of the active virus for nearly a decade, following a short treatment administered shortly after birth.

HIV, which is known to affect more than 36.7 million people worldwide, is one of the deadliest viruses around today - since it was discovered, it's taken the lives of more than 35 million victims, according to the World Health Organization. "This has important policy implications", said Dr. Linda-Gail Bekker, deputy director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and a co-leader of the conference. The family is said to be "really delighted" when they were told that the child will be given several procedures which the doctors hope to reduce HIV or completely eradicate it.

The youngster was first enrolled in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)-funded Children with HIV Early Antiretroviral Therapy (CHER) clinical trial in 2007. The treatments stopped 40 weeks later.

"By further studying the child, we may expand our understanding of how the immune system controls HIV replication", said Caroline Tiemessen from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg.

Since the epidemic erupted in the 1980s, 76.1-million people have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Further phase 3 trials of the treatment are already in progress and more evidence will be needed in wider groups of patients but the results from the LATTE-2 study on long-acting therapy could well be the "next revolution in HIV therapy", researchers said. In addition, low viral levels also dramatically lower the risk of her passing on the virus to others, although not completely.

The South African child does not have the genetic profile of the rare individuals who have not become infected with HIV in spite of being exposed to the virus, who include some sex workers.

It's not a healing, considering the HIV virus is still present, but it is so weak that it can not be multiplied or transmitted to another person even in the absence of a treatment. However, in July 2014, they announced the virus had re-emerged. Moreover, a recent analysis of stored blood samples showed that the child has maintained an undetectable level of HIV. But a reservoir of virus was found in a few immune cells, although none of it was deemed capable of replicating, they said.

According to reports, the baby contracted HIV from its mother when she was born.

The report, compiled by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) "Ending AIDS: Progress Towards the 90-90 Targets", said the other nine Asia-Pacific countries that had large constituencies of new HIV infections past year are India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Thailand.


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