A baby girl born with HIV seems to have been effectively cured of the virus. The child was treated very early with standard HIV drugs, which may change how HIV is treated and possibly eradicated among children born HIV-positive.
More testing must be done to ensure that such treatment can work in other children, but this unidentified girl is the first infant to be functionally cured. She was born in a rural hospital in July 2010. Her mother had just tested positive for HIV, according to Reuters, and had not received any prenatal treatment.
Two blood tests confirmed that she is HIV-positive within her first two days of life. The infant was immediately put on a cocktail of zidovudine (also known as AZT), lamivudine, and nevirapine at 30 hours old. Typically, when an HIV-infected mother has undergone drug treatment to curb the risk of infecting her child, the baby would only have been given necirapine.
At 29 days, the virus became undetectable. The girl continued regular treatment for 18 months, but then stopped coming to appointments for the following 10 months. Doctors did not specify why the mother stopped using treatment during those 10 months.
When Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson tested her patient, she found that the girl still exhibited no HIV-specific antibodies.
"At that point, I knew I was dealing with a very unusual case," Dr. Gay said, according to Reuters.
The case was announced Sunday at the 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta by pediatrician Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who did not treat the child, but studied her blood samples.
The functional cure differs from Timothy Brown, known as the Berlin Patient, who seems to have also been cured of HIV after intensive stem cell therapy to treat his leukemia.