A Cure for HIV?

Three decades into the HIV/AIDS pandemic, two babies may now be cured of HIV, doctors announced this week at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston.

The first baby, born with HIV in Mississippi, was given high doses of antiretroviral drugs azidothymidine (AZT), Lamivudine (3TC) and Nevirapine within hours of birth. With three years off the medication, doctors say the baby has shown no sign of the deadly virus since, according to New York Times.

Doctors used the same antiretroviral treatment on a baby delivered last summer at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, California. Eleven days later, no trace of HIV could be found in their body. Fast forward nine months, the baby still shows no sign of the virus.

However the baby is still on the antiretroviral treatment, so it will be at least a few months before doctors can tell for sure if the child is in remission.

Dr. Deborah Persaud

“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 and lead author in the report from the California case. “At this time, there is no plan to stop treatment.”

With five more cases of the antiretroviral treatment’s success in Canada and three more in South Africa, the treatment shows promise. However more research is necessary to determine if this early treatment could lead to new standards in HIV treatment.

“This could lead to major changes, for two reasons,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, executive director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Both for the welfare of the child, and because it is a huge proof of concept that you can cure someone if you can treat them early enough.”

If progress continues, this could be a huge game changer in treatment of HIV and perhaps AIDS worldwide.

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