Today, the first of this year’s groundbreaking medical news swarmed the interwebs when researchers confirmed that they have, for the first time, cured a baby born with HIV. Prior to this, the only fully cured AIDS patient recognized worldwide is the so-called “Berlin patient”, American Timothy Brown. Timothy is considered cured of HIV and leukemia five years after receiving bone marrow transplants from a rare donor naturally resistant to HIV.
In this new case, a baby girl received nothing more invasive or complex than commonly available antiretroviral drugs. The unidentified baby from Mississippi was infected by her HIV-positive mother, and her treatment with therapeutic doses of antiretroviral drugs began even before her own positive blood test came back.
The difference, however, was the dosage and the timing, starting less than 30 hours after her birth.
Tests showed the baby’s viral count steadily declined until it could no longer be detected 29 days after her birth. The child was given follow-up treatment with antiretrovirals until 18 months, at which point doctors lost contact with her for 10 months. During that period she was not taking antiretrovirals.
Researchers then were able to do a series of blood tests – and none gave an HIV-positive result. Hence, for the first time, this “functional cure” worked on a baby – a development that could help improve treatment of babies infected at birth. Could this mean that a cure for HIV for both babies and adults will be found soon?
We can only hope!