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S African girl is third child with HIV remission

Johannesburg, Monday

A South African girl has become only the third child to beat the Aids virus into long-term remission—almost nine years and counting—after receiving a drug cocktail in infancy, researchers announced Monday.

The child was given a ten-month course of anti-Aids medicine until she was one year old, then taken off the drugs as part of a medical trial. Eight years and nine months later, the virus is still dormant and the girl healthy without needing treatment, a research team reported at the International Aids Society conference on HIV science in Paris.

“This new case strengthens our hope that by treating HIV-infected children for a brief period beginning in infancy, we may be able to spare them the burden of life-long therapy,” said Aids expert Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) which funded the study.

Meanwhile, Swaziland, which bears the world’s heaviest HIV burden, has halved the rate of new infections in five years by boosting access to virus-suppressing drugs, researchers said Monday.

The country where about one in three adults are infected with the Aids-causing virus, has vastly expanded public programmes to test people for HIV infection and put them on life-saving anti-retroviral treatment (ART).

“Since 2011, national HIV incidence in Swaziland dropped by almost half,” a research team led by Velephi Okello (pictured) of the Swazi health ministry said in a written presentation to an HIV science conference in Paris. -BBC/AFP

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