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French researchers on the verge of ‘functional cure’ for AIDS

• Sarah Boseley, The Guardian

A small group of patients with HIV in France have been able to stop taking Aids drugs without any resurgence of the virus in their bodies, giving scientists new hope that a “functional cure” for HIV may be possible.

The Visconti cohort, as the 14 French patients are being called, were all given antiretroviral drugs to control the virus soon after becoming infected with HIV, which is not very common. They remained on medication for at least three years, but then stopped.

Usually, the levels of virus in the body will rise without drug suppression and cause the patient to become ill and eventually develop Aids. But the Visconti cohort has remained well, with extremely low levels of virus in their system, for a median of seven years.

“We believe that this is a really promising group of patients,” said Asier Saez Ciron from the Institut Pasteur in France, one of the scientists involved in the research which was presented at the International Aids Conference in Washington.

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