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HIV 'functional cure' possible with early treatment, say scientists

Treating people with HIV rapidly after they have become infected with the virus that causes Aids may be enough to achieve a "functional cure" in a small proportion of patients diagnosed early, according to research.

Scientists in France who followed 14 patients who were treated swiftly with HIV drugs but then stopped treatment found that even when they had been off therapy for more than seven years they still showed no signs of the virus rebounding.

The research, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, follows news this month about a baby girl in Mississippi being effectively cured of HIV after receiving early treatment.

Christine Rouzioux, a professor at Paris Descartes University and a member of the team that identified HIV 30 years ago, said the results showed that the number of infected cells circulating in the blood of these patients, who are known as "post-treatment controllers", kept falling even without treatment for many years.

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