Baby Born with AIDS Virus is now HIV-Negative
Scientists say they have found a way to cure newborn babies infected with HIV.
The discovery has been developing over the past year, with major announcements twice coming out of a leading medical research conference.
In March of last year, doctors reported at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston that a child (dubbed the “Mississippi baby”) had been cured of HIV following an aggressive drug treatment implemented just 30 hours after birth.
Some experts were skeptical of the news, preferring to wait to see if the experiment could be successfully repeated elsewhere.
It was, this time in Long Beach, California, where Dr. Audra Deveikis at Miller Children’s Hospital gave the baby a combination of AZT, 3TC and nevirapine only hours after being born. The treatment will continue until the baby is two years old, at which point—if the HIV has not returned—the medication will be briefly stopped to see if there is any change in the condition. The child is not considered “cured” of HIV until the treatment is ended.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, executive director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The New York Times that the two cases “could lead to major changes” in the treatment of children born with HIV.
Based on what is now known, it appears that starting the drug program at birth is critical to killing the virus before it gains a foothold in the human body, according to University of California, San Francisco, AIDS expert Dr. Steven G. Deeks. “But it sure would be nice to have a way to decide when to stop” the treatment, he told the Times. “That’s the next question.”
Also, a clinical trial is now being put together involving 60 babies who are born infected. That research is expected to last several years.
Doctors say that a quarter of a million children are born annually around the world with HIV. Less than 200 of those infected babies are born in the United States.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman
To Learn More:
Early Treatment Is Found to Clear H.I.V. in a 2nd Baby (by Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times)
Doctors Hope for Cure in a 2nd Baby Born with HIV (by Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press)
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