African Boy Achieves HIV Remission Without Drugs

A 9-year-old boy in South Africa has controlled his HIV infection without regular treatment for most of his life, doctors say.

It's the first reported case in Africa of a child controlling HIV infection without medication, and the third such case worldwide, CNN reported.

The unidentified boy was diagnosed with HIV when he was one month old. Soon after diagnosis, he began 40 weeks of antiretroviral treatment (ART). After the drug treatment stopped, the boy's health was monitored.

In late 2015, blood tests showed the boy to be in HIV remission, meaning levels of the AIDS-causing virus in his blood are undetectable using standard tests. Analysis of blood samples collected since the boy was an infant showed that he achieved remission soon after ART ended, CNN reported.

The case was presented by the boy's doctor on Monday at the International AIDS Conference on HIV Science in Paris.

"This is really very rare," said Dr. Avy Violari, head of pediatric clinical trials at the Perinatal HIV Research Unit at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, told CNN reported.

"By studying these cases, we hope we will understand how one can stop (treatment)," Violari added.

There is no vaccine or cure for HIV. Lifelong drug treatment for children with HIV carries the risk of potential toxicity, side effects and the need for daily adherence, which becomes more difficult when patients become teens, CNN reported.

Previous cases of treatment-free long-term HIV remission in children have been confirmed in Mississippi and in France.

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