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Research in the DRC Provides Breakthrough for Fight Against HIV

The discovery of a large group of people who control HIV without taking medication is leading to hopes of an eventual cure, scientists say. The study found as many as 4% of HIV carriers in the Democratic Republic of Congo were able to suppress the virus. Typically less than 1% of people with HIV are able to do so. This could serve as springboard for further research to develop a vaccine or new treatments to tackle the virus that causes Aids, researchers say. “When we first started to see the data coming in from the study we were surprised, but we were also elated,” Mary Rodgers, the study’s lead scientist, told the BBC. The findings, published in eBioMedicine which is part of The Lancet family of medical journals, looked at samples from taken people living with HIV between 1987 and 2019. The team included scientists from pharmaceutical company Abbott, Université Protestante au Congo, Johns Hopkins, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and University of Missouri – Kansas City. Dr Rodgers, head of Abbott’s global viral surveillance programme, said the group in DR Congo was the biggest detected in one country – between 2.7% and 4.3%. Another 1% of people living with HIV in Cameroon were also identified as controlling the virus well without medication.