Doctors at an AIDS conference in Boston revealed on Wednesday that a female baby that was born with the AIDS virus may have possibly been cured after getting treated soon after birth. The baby, born in Los Angeles, California last year, was given treatment four hours after she was born, soon after viral DNA and RNA were found in her blood and spinal fluid. Hers was the second case in which doctors found success after conducting aggressive and immediate postnatal treatment.
The first case was announced a month earlier. A baby who was born in Mississippi three and a half years ago received treatment just 30 hours after birth. The mother did not receive prenatal care and she was unaware that she was infected with the virus, with doctors only discovering it during labor. This means that she also did not take any drugs to lower her virus levels and protect her unborn child from being infected. It is possible for HIV to be transferred during pregnancy, labor, and birth.
Doctors suspected that the high-risk baby had been infected, and they transferred it to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The baby was given aggressive antiretroviral treatment because it was too late to use regular prophylaxis. The baby was treated until she was a year and a half old, when the mother started missing appointments.
The doctors were able to make contact with the child again ten months later. They feared the worst, but they couldn’t find any signs of infection, even though the mother had been unable to give her child medicines for the last five months. Tests using ultra-sensitive arrays on the child’s tissue samples at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center also came out negative for the virus.
Mississippi Baby Born With HIV Now Cured
The report on the first case was received with skepticism, with scientists saying that the Mississippi child may have never been infected in the first place. Now, with the announcement of the second case, the scientific community has renewed hope that an aggressive treatment done right after birth can actually cure babies born with HIV.
The pediatricians at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach replicated the treatment done on the Mississippi child by giving the LA baby a mix of three antiretroviral drugs, namely 3TC, nevirapine, and AZT. The baby was given higher doses that are typically used for treatment and not previously recommended for administering to newborns. The mother was also given AIDS drugs during labor to prevent viral transmission.
According to Johns Hopkins virus specialist Dr. Deborah Persaud who has been involved in both cases, the LA baby is still receiving treatment and it would be inaccurate to say that the baby is in remission or has been completely cured. As of the moment, she describes the second baby as “ser-reverted HIV-negative.”
The encouraging results of both cases raise hope on the further success of early treatment to cure HIV infection in babies.
The course of action that led to a possible cure
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