INTRODUCTION: Most individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus-1, in the absence of antiretroviral
therapy, exhibit persistent virus replication and declining CD4+ cell numbers, and progress to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome within 10 years of infection. Elite controllers are rare individuals with human
immunodeficiency virus-1 infection who can maintain undetectable plasma virus levels and remain asymptomatic without antiretroviral therapy. It has been proposed that elite controllers benefit from being infected with attenuated human immunodeficiency virus-1 variants.
CASE PRESENTATION: A 31-year-old African woman presented with human immunodeficiency virus-1 infection during pregnancy and was diagnosed with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Subsequently, her husband, a 31-year-old African man, was tested and found to be seropositive for human immunodeficiency virus-1. His plasma human immunodeficiency virus-1 ribonucleic acid level was found to be below the limit of detection of the clinical assay.
CONCLUSION: This report provides evidence for the first described case of human immunodeficiency virus-1 infection possibly transmitted from an elite controller to a patient who progressed to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
This observation strengthens the case against avirulence as a mechanism that protects elite controllers.