HIV, we’re winning the battle, it’s just the war that evades us.
By Albert Angulo
It may sound hard to believe, but doctors from Mississippi are saying that for the first time, an infant has been cured of an HIV infection. Doctors have been reported as saying the infant had tested positive for HIV on five separate occasions and now, at age two and a half, has been free of drugs for an entire year, the child shows no signs of the virus in its body.
Only thirty hours after the baby’s birth, from an HIV-positive mother, the child had been treated with antiretroviral drugs, which is an uncommon practice. The thought is that this aggressive treatment, contributed in large part, to the apparent annihilation of the virus, by crippling the virus before it could cripple the immune system.
There are of course caveats, in that, outside experts have not yet been able to completely verify these claims. And while it seems clear that the child no longer tests positive for HIV, there’s yet to be rock-solid confirmation that it ever was HIV positive in the first place. But, Dr. Deborah Persaud, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and lead author, of the report on the baby, and other outside scientists have said, they are certain the child was in fact infected with HIV. “It’s proof of principle that we can cure the H.I.V. infection, if we can replicate this case,” she said, when announcing the discovery.
Studies are already being planned to see if similar aggressive treatments can work in other HIV-positive infants, and if this cure can be widely verified, understood, and replicated, then it would stand as a huge step forward in the fight against HIV and AIDS in children, and eventually, the fight against HIV and AIDS on the whole.
However, for the moment, it’s an instance of an individual child being functionally cured, not “a cure” per se, but it’s a step in the right direction.