A baby girl born with HIV in Mississippi has been cured after early treatment with standard HIV drugs. It is a potentially revolutionary case which could offer insights into eradicating HIV infection among young victims.
Dr Deborah Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, presented his findings at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.
This is the first-ever account of an infant achieving a functional cure, a rarity, involving a person getting remission without drugs. Standard tests show no signs of the virus multiplying in the body. However, more testing needs to be done to see whether the treatment would help other children. Despite that, the results could change the way high-risk babies are treated and possibly find a cure for HIV-affected children.
The case involved the use of a cocktail of commonly available drugs used to treat infant HIV infection. When the baby girl was born in July 2010, her mother had just tested positive for HIV and because of her risk, the infant was put on a cocktail of three anti-HIV drugs when she was just 30 hours old.Once the treatment began, the baby's immune system started to respond and the tests showed falling levels of the virus until it was not detectable.
Researchers believe that the more aggressive anti-retroviral treatment resulted in her cure by keeping the virus away from forming viral reservoirs, which lie inactive and do not respond to standard medications. These reservoirs rekindle the infection in patients who stop the therapy, and this is the reason why infected patients need lifelong treatment to keep the infection at bay.