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October 26, 2014

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Baby Born With HIV Said To Be 'Cured' In A Medical First

Baby Born With HIV Said To Be 'Cured' In A Medical First

03/04/2013

A Mississippi baby who was born with the AIDS virus in 2010 has reportedly been cured, say scientists, after being treated with an aggressive drugs regimen.

The regimen started with a three-drug infusion for the child within 30 hours after birth, before tests even confirmed infection of the child, whose mother was also only diagnosed with the illness when she went into labor, reports Examiner.

Experts are still calling this a "functional cure" rather than a complete one, since the child still exhibits traces of lingering HIV genetic material in testing — an amount that can be easily controlled by the body without requiring medication or the standard drug treatment that most HIV carriers have to take their entire lives. The baby girl has been off of the medication for about a year. Experts are suggesting that it was the timing of the treatment and the fact that the virus was attacked so early that was crucial in this case, instead of any new or experimental medication.

"The child got therapy and then went off therapy, and now there's no detectable virus," said Deborah Persaud, pictured, an AIDS researcher and pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Children's Center who was the lead author of the study. "That's really unheard of. If people go off therapy, most of them rebound ... within a few weeks."

The results were announced on Sunday at the 20th Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Atlanta, Georgia. It could have far-reaching implications for babies who are still born with HIV, a number that the World Health Organization estimates at around 300,000-400,000.

To date, there has only been one person cured of the AIDS virus, the so-called "Berlin patient," American Timothy Brown, whose convalescence in 2007 was unconventional at best, the result of a bone marrow transplant received from a rare donor who was naturally resistant to HIV. The bone marrow transplant was conducted to treat the leukemia from which Brown also suffered.

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Read more: AIDS, HIV, Cure, Timothy Brown, Virus, Berlin Patient, Deborah Persaud, Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins Children's Center, WHO, World Health Organization, CROI, Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections

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