It raises the prospect of patients no longer needing to take daily medication to control their infection.
The patients’ white blood cells were taken out of the body, given HIV resistance and then injected back in.
The small study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggested the technique was safe.
Some people are born with a very rare mutation that protects them from HIV.
It changes the structure of their T-cells, a part of the immune system, so that the virus cannot get inside and multiply.
The first person to recover from HIV, Timothy Ray Brown, had his immune system wiped out during leukaemia treatment and then replaced with a bone marrow transplant from someone with the mutation.
Now researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are adapting patients’ own immune systems to give them that same defence.