A child born with HIV has been pronounced free of the virus after two years, say doctors involved in the case. Although not conclusive, virologist Dr. Deborah Persaud of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore calls it “a proof of concept that HIV can be potentially curable in infants.”
The baby girl, who was born to an HIV-positive mother in a rural hospital in Mississippi, was transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and treated with standard antiretroviral HIV drugs just 30 hours after her birth–before, even, she had been diagnosed with HIV. After 18 months of treatment, the child disappeared from the medical system but, when she and her mother came back onto the doctors’ radar, she was tested. The tests came back negative.
The southern states of the U.S. have been particularly hard hit by the HIV epidemic. This treatment is thought to work because it wiped out the disease before it was able to form hideouts in the body, and it is these dormant cells which usually reinfects anyone who stops medication. In 2011, a Seattle-based biotech firm, Koronis Pharmaceuticals, discovered another potential way of treating HIV, after it developed a drug to mutate the virus into oblivion.
[Image by Flickr user Wheeler Cowperthwaite]