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Small Percentage Of Adults Who Receive Rapid HIV Treatment Following Infection Might Achieve ‘Functional Cure,’ French Researchers Say

“Rapid treatment after HIV infection may be enough to ‘functionally cure’ about a 10th of those diagnosed early, say researchers in France,” who “have been analyzing 14 people who stopped therapy, but have since shown no signs of the virus resurging,” BBC News reports (Gallagher, 3/15). “The research, published in the U.S. journal PLoS Pathogens, comes on the heels of a report last week that a baby in Mississippi appeared to be cured of HIV after aggressive antiretroviral drug treatment delivered within 30 hours of birth,” Agence France-Presse/GlobalPost notes (3/14). “A functional cure describes when the virus is reduced to such low levels that it is kept at bay even without continuing treatment. The virus, however, is still detectable in the body,” Reuters notes (Kelland, 3/15).

“Asier Sáez-Cirión of the Pasteur Institute’s unit for regulation of retroviral infections in Paris analyzed 70 people with HIV who had been treated with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) between 35 days and 10 weeks after infection — much sooner than people are normally treated,” New Scientist reports, adding, “Most of the 70 people relapsed when their treatment was interrupted, with the virus rebounding rapidly to pre-treatment levels.” However, “14 of them — four women and 10 men — were able to stay off of ARVs without relapsing, having taken the drugs for an average of three years,” the news service writes (Coghlan, 3/14). “Early treatment in these patients may have limited the establishment of viral reservoirs, the extent of viral mutations, and preserved immune responses. A combination of those may contribute to control infection in post-treatment controllers,” Christine Rouzioux, a professor at Necker Hospital and University Paris Descartes, said, according to Reuters (3/15).