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Doctors cured a baby with HIV within 30 hours of her birth.
Doctors already knew the baby’s mother was HIV positive. Hours after giving birth, doctors administered high doses of three antiretroviral drugs to the baby hoping that it would control the virus.
It has been two years since doctors gave antiretroviral drugs to the baby.
Now, the little girl from Mississippi has no evidence of HIV in her blood. Researchers has announced the girl is “functionally cured” of HIV.
Doctors believe that early intervention with antiretroviral drugs was likely a key to “curing” the little girl.
A “functional cure” is when the virus is so small that lifelong treatment is not necessary and standard clinical tests cannot detect the virus.
The girl was born HIV positive and her mother was only diagnosed as HIV positive just before delivery.
Dr. Hannah Gay, a paediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center says, “We didn’t have the opportunity to treat the mom during the pregnancy as we would like to be able to do to prevent transmission to the baby.”
Dr. Gay emphasized that the timing of the intervention may have contributed more to the outcome than the drugs or the amount of drugs used.
“We are hoping that future studies will show that very early institution of effective therapy will result in this same outcome consistently,” she said.
Gay said after giving antiretroviral drugs to the baby, they confirmed that the child was HIV positive. They believe the girl was infected in the womb.
The little girl continued receiving antiretroviral drugs for 15 months. However, her mother stopped administering the drug for some reason. The drug therapy resumed after health officials intervened.
HIV-positive mothers are usually treated early since all mothers pass antibodies to their babies. If HIV-positive mothers are given treatment earlier the chances of passing the virus is less than 2%.
“So all babies are born antibody positive, but only a fraction of babies born to HIV-positive women will actually get the virus, and that fraction depends on whether the mom and baby are getting antiviral prophylaxis (preventative treatment) or not,” said Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, an immunologist at the University of Massachusetts.
It is still a possibility that the virus may come back, so doctors will be monitoring the baby for awhile.
Do you think doctors are close to a cure for HIV?