Child diagnosed with HIV as a baby in remission nine years after treatment

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A child diagnosed with HIV as a baby has gone into remission, raising hopes for a cure among sufferers, scientists said.

The South African girl, whose name is being protected, began 40 weeks’ treatment with antiretroviral drugs at two months old.

Nearly nine years later, she was found in tests to be virtually virus-free.

Scientists, who presented the results of the study at a Paris conference, said a small number of her cells showed signs of HIV, but none that were able to reproduce.

The child did not carry genetic resistance to the virus, so researchers said the result was likely due to early treatment.

Patients with HIV, which affects 37 million people worldwide, usually need to take the powerful medication daily for the rest of their lives. It often causes debilitating side effects.

But experts said news of the girl’s progress raised the possibility that short, aggressive bursts of treatment in the virus’s early stages could halt the progression of disease.

Research by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsored the study, has previously found that early treatment boosts children’s survival rates.

The South African child is not the first to go into remission after treatment for the virus.

It follows the case of the “Mississippi baby” in the United States, in which a child was treated for 18 months and one year later showed no signs of the virus.

However, in 2014, it emerged that the child’s virus had returned.

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