The discovery of a large group of people whose bodies naturally 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.

“This could mean that this is something that we can actually cure,” she said.

The findings, published in eBioMedicine which is part of The Lancet family of medical journals, looked at samples taken FROM 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 РKansas City.