Scientists Say Child Born with HIV Apparently Cured, Offers Clues for Fighting Pediatric AIDS
Mississippi HIV specialists report that giving an HIV-infected newborn faster, stronger treatment than usual seems to have “cured” the two-and-a-half-year-old by preventing the HIV virus from establishing hidden reservoirs of HIV cells in the body. When tests completed during labor revealed that the baby’s mother was HIV-infected, doctors at the small hospital sent the baby to University of Mississippi pediatric HIV specialist Dr. Hannah Gay, who treated the at-risk baby with a combination of three HIV drugs within 30 hours of birth.
The child continued to receive HIV therapy through 18 months, when the family stopped bringing the child for treatment for several months. When the family resumed the child’s treatment, both standard and super-sensitive HIV tests disclosed no HIV virus. The child continues to have regular HIV tests every few months. Although the child’s tests still show traces of the virus, the fast action “functionally cured” the child, according to Dr. Deborah Persaud at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. The Johns Hopkins team will now try to duplicate the results with other high-risk babies. The apparent success also suggests researchers should revisit reports of cures in the 1990s that were dismissed at the time.
Gay and Persaud emphasized that the best scenario is preventing prenatal HIV transmission by testing women during pregnancy. Approximately 300,000 HIV-infected babies are born each year, mostly in poor countries where approximately 40 percent of HIV-infected pregnant women do not receive HIV treatment that prevents prenatal transmission.
The only other documented HIV/AIDS cure was a risky bone marrow transplant Timothy Ray Brown received from a person with natural resistance to HIV. Brown remains HIV-clear after five years. The U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned HIV-infected people to continue taking HIV medications.
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