Baby Cured of HIV After Early Treatment

Written by Kate Winter on . Posted in Science


Image Credit: LiveScience

For the second time ever, scientists have cured HIV.

This functional cure, a rare event in which a person achieves remission without the need for drugs, occurred in a baby in Mississippi when it was treated aggressively and early.

A blood test has shown no signs that the virus is making copies of itself anymore.

“This is a proof of concept that HIV can be potentially curable in infants” said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, who presented the findings.

Second Case

The first such case of an HIV cure was in Timothy Ray Brown in 2007. Brown’s HIV infection was completely eradicated in 2007, though it involved the destruction of his immune system and a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection.

In this case announced on Sunday, within 30 hours of her birth, the baby was given a cocktail of three HIV-fighting drugs – zidovudine, lamivudine, and nevirapine. Normally babies born with HIV are just administered small doses of nevirapine.

Researchers believe this treatment kept the virus from forming hard-to-treat viral reservoirs, which lie dormant and out of the reach of standard medications.

Dr. Persaud said, “The child got therapy and then went off therapy, and now there’s no detectable virus. That’s really unheard of. If people go off therapy, most of them rebound…within a few weeks.”

Now What?

Researchers cautioned that the report on the baby girl involves just one patient, and the findings appear to have little immediate relevance to people who develop HIV as adults, though promising research is ongoing.

If further studies confirm that this is a viable treatment, it could spur widespread use of such an aggressive regimen in babies born with HIV moving forward.


ScienceMag, Reuters



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