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There May Be New "Functional Cure" For HIV

A breakthrough in early treatment.

Posted on March 15, 2013, at 12:51 p.m. ET

A group of French scientists may have found a "functional cure" for HIV patients who are diagnosed early and treated quickly after being infected, according to Reuters.

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In the study, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, 14 HIV-positive patients received rapid post-infection treatment, then eventually stopped all therapy. It was found that even seven years later, the virus showed no signs of rebounding.

A Cambodian doctor offers Anti Retro Viral (ARV) drugs to a woman living with HIV at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship hospital in Phnom Penh in November 2012.
AFP/TANG CHHIN SOTHY / Getty Images

A Cambodian doctor offers Anti Retro Viral (ARV) drugs to a woman living with HIV at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship hospital in Phnom Penh in November 2012.

Christine Rouzioux, a researcher who helped identify HIV 30 years ago, said the patients' infected cells and "viral reservoirs" were decreasing over time, which "closely matches the definition of 'functional' cure."

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A functional cure is when the virus is still detectable, but not spreading — infected levels are so low that treatment is not needed.

Niranjan Shrestha / AP

Asier Saez-Cirion, a French researcher, told Reuters the results "may hold important clues for the development of a strategy to cure HIV or at least induce a long-term control without the need of antiretroviral treatment."

Alex Wong / Getty Images
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