Last summer a girl was born with HIV in Long Beach, California, today she appears to be totally disease free marking the second case of an infant born with HIV who was able to be “cured” of the disease.
The first case, which some in the medical field say happened by accident, resulted when a baby born in Mississippi was diagnosed with HIV and then immediately treated with very high quantities of three different antiretroviral drugs. After three years, doctors who worked on the case say that even though the young girl is not on medication, and hasn’t been for two years, she shows no signs of having HIV in her blood.
The most recent case was just recently reported and presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. The annual meeting was held earlier this month in Boston.
The case of the girl from Long Beach does not appear to be as locked and shut as many could hope for. The child is currently still undergoing antiretroviral treatment so it is too soon to know whether the child is in remission or if it is merely the drugs keeping the virus unnoticeable.
This girl was born at Miller Children’s Hospital over the summer to a mother who had AIDS. Doctors in Long Beach started off the baby with very high doses of the antiretroviral drugs Nevirapine, 3TC and AZT. For those who followed the Oscar’s closely this year, AZT is the same drug that was being administered at too high a dosage to the real-life characters in Dallas Buyers Club.
These drugs were given to the baby girl within four hours of her birth and doctors have reported that 11 days later the HIV virus was not able to be detected in her body and has remained so over the last nine months.
Dr. Deborah Persuad, who worked on both of these cases and is a virologist at John Hopkins Children’s Center said that to take a kid off of antiretroviral treatment purposefully is not a likely development in this case. She said that does not meet the “standard of care” patients should be given and that at the present moment there is not a plan in place to bring the child off of this treatment.
Although this is a very attractive confirmation of an important case, the procedure and processes involved with these so-called ‘cures’ are far from being confirmed and instituted as standards of practice. While many doctors do want to begin this process, the first steps have already begun to be taken. There has been confirmation that a clinical trial that would strive to prove the effectiveness of this procedure is set to begin in a few months.
If the results of this test are in line with this new report that a second infant with HIV has been cured after receiving treatment, the medical world could be looking at an undeniably extraordinary possibility that could possibly help stop the spread of the HIV virus worldwide.
By Nick Manai