Sunday, scientists announced that a baby born with the AIDS virus appears to have been cured. The two and a half-year old, from Mississippi, has been medication free for a year without any signs of infection. The baby’s mother didn’t receive any prenatal care during her pregnancy. Once rapid HIV test detected the baby’s positive status. Usually a baby is given a low-dose of HIV medication, but the rural hospital wasn’t equipped with the dosage. The baby was then sent to another medical center where she received higher treatment doses. The child responded well through age 18 months, when the family temporarily quit returning and stopped treatment, researchers said. When they returned several months later, remarkably, Gay’s standard tests detected no virus in the child’s blood.
“You could call this about as close to a cure, if not a cure, that we’ve seen,” Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, who is familiar with the findings, told The Associated Press.
If the child remains healthy, it would mark only the world’s second reported cure. Specialists say it offers promising clues for more research to fight pediatric HIV. Doctors don’t usually give high-dose treatment right after birth, before first confirming that a newborn really is infected. Sunday’s announcement in Atlanta suggests doing so in this case wiped out HIV before it could form hideouts in the body that usually reinfect anyone who stops medication.
According to CBS news:
A doctor gave this baby faster and stronger treatment than is usual, starting a three-drug infusion within 30 hours of birth. That was before tests confirmed the infant was infected and not just at risk from a mother whose HIV wasn’t diagnosed until she was in labor. “I just felt like this baby was at higher-than-normal risk, and deserved our best shot,” Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi, said in an interview. That fast action apparently knocked out HIV in the baby’s blood before it could form hideouts in the body. Those so-called reservoirs of dormant cells usually rapidly reinfect anyone who stops medication, said Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. She led the investigation that deemed the child “functionally cured,” meaning in long-term remission even if all traces of the virus haven’t been completely eradicated. Next, Persaud’s team is planning a study to try to prove that, with more aggressive treatment of other high-risk babies. “Maybe we’ll be able to block this reservoir seeding,” Persaud said.
What are your thoughts on this new finding?