By Patrick Corby
The first documented case of a child being cured of the HIV virus was revealed on March 3rd.
The baby girl from Mississippi, whose mother was diagnosed with HIV but did not receive any pre-natal treatment, started a concoction of three separate anti-viral drugs just hours after birth, before an official diagnosis.
The child stopped taking the concoction at 18 months, but at 23 months doctors have found that the now two year shows no signs of the infection and is “functionally cured”, said a medical team yesterday at a conference held in Atlanta.The results were reported at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, a gathering of 4,000 infectious disease researchers that meet to discuss research and share results every year.
Director of Research at the Foundation for Aids Research, Rowena Johnston, explained: “The child’s pediatrician in Mississippi was aware of the work we were doing and quickly notified our team as soon as this young patient’s case came to her attention.”
It has been theorized that the immediacy of the administration of the antiviral drugs could have stopped the HIV virus from forming deep reservoirs that normally make it impossible to fully cure.
Further tests and studies will now be rigorously examined to assess the strength of the case and if this ‘new-born’ approach is confirmed it could help towards curing the 300,000 children infected each year with the HIV virus.
Hannah Gay, one of the doctors that treated the infant at the University of Mississippi in Jackson, USA, has reiterated that: “There would be scores of babies that would benefit if we can find a strategy for intervention that allows us to make this happen in other babies.”
In recent years there has been a strengthened effort by pharmaceutical companies including Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson and Gilead Sciences Inc, all of which are driving funds to Research and Analysis for the study of HIV medication.
“Where our goal was prevention, now our goal can be a cure and that is a major shift in the field of HIV,” said Deborah Persaud, an associate professor of infectious disease at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Maryland.
I also write for The Upcoming, which you can read here.