HIV is a serious disease that affects millions of people. While it is spread through blood and other bodily fluids, it can also be spread from a pregnant mother to her unborn child. HIV positive babies are fairly common, and there is no known cure for the disease. Doctors recently discovered that babies that are treated for HIV within hours of their birth can be cured of it.
Antiretroviral drugs were administered to a newborn baby in California four hours after birth. That baby is now almost a year old and shows no signs of HIV. The California baby is the second baby to be cured of HIV with these drugs. Another HIV positive baby born to a mother in Mississippi was also given the antiretroviral drugs within a few hours of being born and was also cured.
In order to determine if the babies were really cured of the disease they had to be taken off their treatment medication. While the California baby is still taking her treatments, the Mississippi baby is not and still appears to be HIV free.
"This is a call to action for us to mobilize and be able to learn from these cases," Johns Hopkins University pediatrics specialist Dr Deborah Persaud said. "Really the only way we can prove that we have accomplished remission in these kids is by taking them off treatment and that's not without risk," she continued.
Doctors may decide to take the California baby off of her treatments when she turns two if she continues to do well between now and then.
"She has no detectable viral load, nothing since six days of age. That is the earliest ever," said Yvonne Bryson, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Over 34 million people worldwide are believed to be HIV positive. Doctors hope that they can continue to cure HIV positive babies and possibly develop a cure that can be used on adults as well.
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