A baby born with AIDS 2 1/2 years ago has essentially been cured of the disease, say researchers. This monumental development in the fight against AIDS could have widespread application for treatment of the HIV virus both here and abroad.
The child in question was treated with powerful anti-AIDS drugs beginning just 31 hours after her birth. According to the Wall Street Journal:
The new case was discovered after the baby girl’s mother stopped treatment on her, and doctors realized that the virus was undetectable even without drugs, which HIV patients normally must take for the rest of their lives.
This is only the second time someone has appeared to have been cured of the HIV virus; the first person was a man in Berlin who was cured as a result of a bone-marrow transplant.
Dr. Deborah Persaud, a pediatrician and AIDS researcher at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, reported the findings yesterday. She 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.”
Researchers theorize that in this case, the powerful drugs administered so soon after birth helped thwart the formation of “viral reservoirs” that harbor the virus. There is no detectable virus left in the system of this particular baby; this case could have wide-ranging repercussions for the way that the HIV virus is approached in newborns. The medical community is tentatively excited about this new development, but they caution that this is only one case and that it has little relevance to people who contract HIV later in life, especially adults. Still, doctors seem optimistic that further study of this baby’s case could spur more aggressive treatment in babies born with HIV, especially in less-developed countries.