The nine-month-old baby that is now free of HIV isn't the first baby that was cured. The first time, it happened almost by accident.
A baby that was hours old and born with HIV in Mississippi was given high doses of three antiretroviral drugs. The little girl was tested three years later, and doctors report that the girl has no evidence of HIV in her blood even though she's been off medication for almost two years.
The other baby girl, also born with HIV, appears to be free of the virus after being treated with similar treatment while she was just hours old. The case report was presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston this week.
The baby girl was delivered at Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, California, last summer to a mother with AIDS. Doctors gave the baby high doses of antiretroviral drugs, those drugs were AZT, 3TC and Nevirapine, administered just four hours after birth. Eleven days later, the virus was undetectable in her body and has not shown up nine months later.
The California baby is still on antiretroviral treatment, so it's too soon to tell if the child is actually in remission.
"Taking kids off antiretroviral therapy intentionally is not standard of care," said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a virologist with Johns Hopkins Children's Center who has been involved in both cases. "At this time, there is no plan to stop treatment."
Doctors around the world are trying to duplicate the case, but more research is needed before new standards are set for treating babies born with HIV. But it is promising.
"This has to be done in a clinical trial setting, because really the only way we can prove that we've accomplished remission in these cases is by taking them off treatment, and that's not without risks," Persaud said during her presentation at the conference.
A clinical trial designed to test the effectiveness of this early treatment technique on infants born with HIV is set to begin in the next couple of months, she said.
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