Last week, scientists reported that a baby had been “functionally cured” of HIV (see “A Toddler May Have Been Cured of HIV Infection”). Now, other researchers report in PLoS Pathogens that 14 HIV-infected adults—four women and 10 men—have survived with the virus in check even though they have stopped taking their antiretroviral medications.
The authors write that while combined antiretroviral drugs reduce HIV-associated illness and death, they cannot cure the infection. The 14 patients in the study are functionally cured, meaning they are not completely rid of the virus—although they have no symptoms, very low levels of HIV can still be detected in their blood. “Given the difficulty of eradicating [HIV], a functional cure for HIV-infected patients appears to be a more reachable short-term goal,” they write.