Specialists say this announcement “offers promising clues for efforts to eliminate HIV infection in children.”
Scientists announced Sunday that a baby born with HIV “appears to have been cured.” The child is now two-and-a-half, and according to scientists “has been off medication for about a year with no signs of infection.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the National Institutes of Health, told the Associated Press, “You could call this about as close to a cure, if not a cure, that we’ve seen.” The baby was given “faster and stronger” treatment than what is usually given to newborns, “starting a three-drug infusion” less than 30 hours after birth. Tests had not come back confirming the infant was infected, but the mother had not received any prenatal care and her HIV was not diagnosed until she was in advanced labor.
Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist and the doctor who treated the infant said, “I just felt like this baby was at higher-than-normal risk, and deserved our best shot.” Dr. Deborah Persaud, of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and the lead researcher on the investigation that determined the child had been “functionally cured” said, “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.”
According to researchers, the child “responded well” to treatment for the first 18 months, after which time the family stopped returning to the clinic for treatments. After several months the mother returned with the child and to everyone’s surprise the tests Dr. Gay administered “detected no virus in the child’s blood.” After ten months without treatment, a half dozen separate labs ran a “battery of super-sensitive tests” but were unable to find any sign that the virus had become active again. Dr. Persaud said, “There were only some remnants of genetic material that don’t appear able to replicate.” Dr. Gay sees the child for check-ups every few months but so far the virus has not returned.
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