Photo: Flickr/Alexander Normande
Doctors from the University of Mississippi Medical centre say they have cured a baby born with HIV, in a scientific discovery that is likely to have worldwide implications for babies born with the virus.According to Ron Winslow at the Wall Street Journal, the two-and-a-half-year-old baby was found to have no signs of the virus in its bloodstream, even after it was taken off drugs.
The researchers believe that starting an aggressive antiretroviral treatment within 31 hours of the infant’s birth led to the cure — an unusually early start for treatment.
The news was announced today at the 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.
“This is the very first case in which we’ve conclusively been able to document that the baby was infected and then after a period of treatment has been able to go off treatment without viral rebound,” Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, an immunologist at the University of Massachusetts, told CNN.
The only other case of a person being cured from HIV is that of Timothy Brown, also known as the “Berlin patient,” who was cured after a stem cell implant.
While the researchers who announced the news are quick to point out that this new “cure” may be a one-off, optimism is high.
“We have, perhaps inadvertently, but in fact, cured the child,” Dr. Hannah Gay, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical centre said today. “We don’t know yet what to expect with this patient because she’s the first of her kind.”
According to the New York Times, some experts who had not seen the research said they needed to be convinced that the child was infected in the first place. While the child’s mother was confirmed infected after she gave birth, the HIV virus is not always passed on to infants. However, doctors who treated the baby say they are sure the infant was infected.
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