Current treatments, called anti-retroviral therapies (Art), target that process but they cannot spot dormant infected T-cells.  

The new therapy works in two stages. Firstly, a vaccine helps the body recognise the HIV-infected cells so it can clear them out. Secondly, a new drug called Vorinostat activates the dormant T-cells so they can be spotted by the immune system.

More than 100,000 people in Britain are living with HIV, around 17 per cent of whom do not know they have the disease, and 37 million are infected worldwide.

The first unidentified patient, a social care worker in London, said: "It would be great if a cure has happened. My last blood test was a couple of weeks ago and there is no detectable virus.

"I took part in the trial to help others as well as myself. It would be a massive achievement if, after all these years, something is found to cure people of this disease. The fact that I was a part of that would be incredible."

Professor Sarah Fidler, a consultant physician at Imperial College London, added: "This therapy is specifically designed to clear the body of all HIV viruses, including dormant ones.

"It has worked in the laboratory and there is good evidence it will work in humans too, but we must stress we are still a long way from any actual therapy.

"We will continue with medical tests for the next five years and at the moment we are not recommending stopping Art but in the future depending on the test results we may explore this."