The VISCONTI Cohort
For some time now, many HIV experts have had a hypothesis: If people can be started on HIV treatment early enough -- very shortly after they are infected -- it might be possible to prevent HIV from establishing a permanent foothold in their body.
The VISCONTI study is one high-profile attempt to test this hypothesis. Fourteen people who started HIV treatment during acute (early-stage) infection were kept on medications for at least a year before stopping.
Surprisingly, researchers found that once they stopped treatment, these people were still able to control the virus -- their HIV viral load remained undetectable without them having to take meds, as though their immune system had been "trained" to be similar to that of the extremely small number of people who appear to have a natural ability to fight off the virus.
Much like people who receive successful cancer treatment are said to be "in remission," doctors are referring to these two people as being in "long-term functional remission" of their HIV infection.