A rare case of someone diagnosed with HIV has been trending since the news broke out yesterday because of one significant detail: The patient has survived even without medication or therapy for 12 years.
The female patient, now 18 years of age, was born with the virus because her mother had HIV while carrying her in the womb. The first six years of the patient’s life involved antiretroviral therapy, as reported in a news release. Despite having stopped therapy at the request of the family, she has been in remission for the past 12 years.
Medical experts are surprised by these new findings, but say that it’s too early to say that a cure has been found. The French National Agency for Research on AIDS director Professor Jean-François Delfraissy said that this development “should not be equated with a cure.” In fact, the patient is still diagnosed as HIV-positive, based on progress monitoring over the years. “This young woman is still infected by HIV and it is impossible to predict how her state of health will change over time.”
What’s clear at this point, though, is the importance of immediate medical attention upon the discovery of HIV in a person’s body. “Her case, though, constitutes a strong additional argument in favor of initiation of antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible after birth in all children born to [HIV positive] mothers,” added Delfraissy.
The discovery was revealed through a study by the Institut Pasteur in Paris as presented during the 8th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference.