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Baby Born With HIV Apparently Cured, Say Scientists

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Baby Born With HIV Apparently Cured, Say Scientists

By LAURAN NEERGAARD 03/03/13 04:34 PM ET EST AP

WASHINGTON -- A baby born with the AIDS virus appears to have been cured, scientists announced Sunday, describing the case of a child from Mississippi who's now 2 1/2 and has been off medication for about a year with no signs of infection.

There's no guarantee the child will remain healthy, although sophisticated testing uncovered just traces of the virus' genetic material still lingering. If so, it would mark only the world's second reported cure.

Specialists say Sunday's announcement, at a major AIDS meeting in Atlanta, offers promising clues for efforts to eliminate HIV infection in children, especially in AIDS-plagued African countries where too many babies are born with the virus.

"You could call this about as close to a cure, if not a cure, that we've seen," Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, who is familiar with the findings, told The Associated Press.

A doctor gave this baby faster and stronger treatment than is usual, starting a three-drug infusion within 30 hours of birth. That was before tests confirmed the infant was infected and not just at risk from a mother whose HIV wasn't diagnosed until she was in labor.

"I just felt like this baby was at higher-than-normal risk, and deserved our best shot," Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi, said in an interview.

That fast action apparently knocked out HIV in the baby's blood before it could form hideouts in the body. Those so-called reservoirs of dormant cells usually rapidly reinfect anyone who stops medication, said Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins Children's Center. She led the investigation that deemed the child "functionally cured," meaning in long-term remission even if all traces of the virus haven't been completely eradicated.

Next, Persaud's team is planning a study to try to prove that, with more aggressive treatment of other high-risk babies. "Maybe we'll be able to block this reservoir seeding," Persaud said.

No one should stop anti-AIDS drugs as a result of this case, Fauci cautioned.

But "it opens up a lot of doors" to research if other children can be helped, he said. "It makes perfect sense what happened."

Better than treatment is to prevent babies from being born with HIV in the first place.

About 300,000 children were born with HIV in 2011, mostly in poor countries where only about 60 percent of infected pregnant women get treatment that can keep them from passing the virus to their babies. In the U.S., such births are very rare because HIV testing and treatment long have been part of prenatal care.

"We can't promise to cure babies who are infected. We can promise to prevent the vast majority of transmissions if the moms are tested during every pregnancy," Gay stressed.

The only other person considered cured of the AIDS virus underwent a very different and risky kind of treatment – a bone marrow transplant from a special donor, one of the rare people who is naturally resistant to HIV. Timothy Ray Brown of San Francisco has not needed HIV medications in the five years since that transplant.

The Mississippi case shows "there may be different cures for different populations of HIV-infected people," said Dr. Rowena Johnston of amFAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. That group funded Persaud's team to explore possible cases of pediatric cures.

It also suggests that scientists should look back at other children who've been treated since shortly after birth, including some reports of possible cures in the late 1990s that were dismissed at the time, said Dr. Steven Deeks of the University of California, San Francisco, who also has seen the findings.

"This will likely inspire the field, make people more optimistic that this is possible," he said.

In the Mississippi case, the mother had had no prenatal care when she came to a rural emergency room in advanced labor. A rapid test detected HIV. In such cases, doctors typically give the newborn low-dose medication in hopes of preventing HIV from taking root. But the small hospital didn't have the proper liquid kind, and sent the infant to Gay's medical center. She gave the baby higher treatment-level doses.

The child responded well through age 18 months, when the family temporarily quit returning and stopped treatment, researchers said. When they returned several months later, remarkably, Gay's standard tests detected no virus in the child's blood.

Ten months after treatment stopped, a battery of super-sensitive tests at half a dozen laboratories found no sign of the virus' return. There were only some remnants of genetic material that don't appear able to replicate, Persaud said.

In Mississippi, Gay gives the child a check-up every few months: "I just check for the virus and keep praying that it stays gone."

The mother's HIV is being controlled with medication and she is "quite excited for her child," Gay added.

by on Mar. 3, 2013 at 5:59 PM
Replies (21-30):
Healthystart30
by Silver Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 1:29 AM
I thought there were already medications that worked so well the virus was not detected in the blood? But those people still have HIV. Basically I'm not sure if this is such a huge breakthrough, and not all infants are infected in the womb. How do they know that wasn't the case with this baby?
Either way, I am glad this baby is doing well, that's the most important part after all.
Goodwoman614
by Satan on Mar. 4, 2013 at 1:31 AM



Quoting GotSomeKids:

This is promising, but I've heard of this in the early 90's.  Med probably better now.  I'm curious if there will be any long term side effects of such early treatment.

But there were never any conclusive results to be drawn, because of problems in following these cases. That is why this is being hailed as a first time event.

The short and long term ramifications on being given high dose "treatment" levels of medication so soon after birth certainly will be investigated, but these are drugs that are ready well known to medical establishment and already in use at lower, "therapeutic" levels. It does seem hopeful.

Here is another source on this: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130303172640.htm


Goodwoman614
by Satan on Mar. 4, 2013 at 1:39 AM



Quoting Healthystart30:

I thought there were already medications that worked so well the virus was not detected in the blood? But those people still have HIV. Basically I'm not sure if this is such a huge breakthrough, and not all infants are infected in the womb. How do they know that wasn't the case with this baby?
Either way, I am glad this baby is doing well, that's the most important part after all.


Here is some information that will help:

What Everyone Should Know 
About HIV Treatment

If you have just been diagnosed with HIV, you're probably anxious about it-to say the least! You've heard horror stories. You may well be afraid that you're about to die.

Calm down. It's not as bad as you think. There is treatment available today that can help you live a long, happy, productive life with HIV. You're not going to die.

It's true that there is still no cure for HIV. There is currently no way to eliminate the virus from your body completely. But there are medications available that can keep the virus under control indefinitely. Take your HIV medications faithfully, and you have an excellent chance of living out a normal life span, or something very close to it.

It wasn't always that way.

In the beginning, HIV almost always progressed to AIDS over time, and, ultimately, it was a death sentence.

The first glimmer of hope came on March 19, 1987, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever drug designed to combat HIV: Retrovir, more commonly known as AZT.

As the years went by, more HIV drugs were introduced. In late 1995 and 1996 there was a real breakthrough. Scientists discovered that combining three HIV drugs into a treatment "cocktail" could stop HIV in its tracks. This approach was called "HAART"-"Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy"-and it was a lifesaver. HAART is still the basis for HIV treatment today.

Since then, HIV drugs have gotten better and better: more effective, easier to take, and easier to tolerate. Many of the early drugs, hailed as "miracles" in their time, have become obsolete because the new drugs are so much better. People used to take 30 pills a day to control their virus. Today, for many people who are newly diagnosed, it is possible to control HIV with just one pill, taken just once a day.

However, there still is no cure for HIV. The drugs available can keep your HIV from reproducing, but they cannot wipe it out. Once you start taking the drugs, you have to keep taking them for life. Even if your viral load is "undetectable," if you stop taking the drugs, the virus comes roaring back.

Still, the change is remarkable. Today, HIV is a chronic manageable disease, similar in many ways to type 1 diabetes (and much easier to manage!) No one lives forever, but most people living with HIV today will probably die of something else.

This issue of HIV Positive! magazine includes a complete list of every medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of HIV. It's in plain English, and we call 'em like we see 'em. We encourage you to read it, and discuss your options with your doctor.

When Should You Start Treatment?

You might think that, with such a dangerous disease, you should start to treat it right away. But that's not necessarily the case. HIV progresses very slowly. It can take as long as ten years for HIV to progress to AIDS without treatment.

Also, once you start taking HIV medications, you have to take them for life. These are powerful drugs, and even the very best of them have some side-effects. So you don't want to start taking them too soon. Obviously, you also don't want to start taking them too late.

Expert advice on when you should start treatment has always been based on your "T-cell" count, rather than the length of time you've been infected.

Your T-cells-called "CD4 T-cells" in full-are immune system cells that are attacked and killed off by HIV. So a declining T-cell count is one of the most reliable signs of advancing HIV. (The other barometer doctors use is an increasing "viral load.") When your T-cells drop below 200 cells/mm3, or when you have an "opportunistic infection," you are considered to have AIDS.

Until recently, HIV treatment guidelines suggested that you should wait to start HIV treatment until your T-cell count dropped below 350 cells/mm3.

However, at the most recent "Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents" convened by the Department of Health and Human Services, 55% of the experts strongly recommended starting treatment when your T-cell count drops to 500 cells/mm3. In fact, 50% of the experts recommended starting even earlier-when your T-cell count is still above 500.

The reason for the change? Today's HIV medications are much less toxic and much easier on your body. So most doctors now believe the benefits of starting medications early outweigh the dangers.

How do you know when your T-cells start dropping? You should be seeing an HIV doctor and having your T-cell count tested regularly, even if you are not on medications yet and even if you are feeling great.

Other Ways To Protect Your Health

If you are HIV-positive, of course, the first thing you should do is deal with your HIV. Find a doctor who is experienced in dealing with HIV. HIV treatment is very complex and it changes all the time. Make sure your doctor is an HIV specialist!

Even if you're not on HIV medications yet, you need a doctor right now to monitor your viral load and T-cell count. Even though you may be feeling fine, you should have your viral load tested every 3-4 months, and your T-cell count measured every 3-6 months.

When you do go on medications, make sure you take them faithfully! Today's HIV medicines are much easier to take and much more tolerable than the medications available just a few years ago. But they don't work unless you take them! Missing doses can result in drug resistance. So be sure to take your meds on time, every time.

But there are additional things you need to do to protect your health. For example:

Get in shape.

The health benefits of regular exercise are literally too many to list. Here's just a sample: exercise reduces your risk of several major diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and several kinds of cancer. It can help protect you from osteoporosis by increasing your bone mineral density. (Osteoporosis is sometimes a problem for people on long-term anti-HIV treatment.) Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent and reverse lipodystrophy, the changes in body fat distribution that affect some people with HIV. And exercise helps lower both your blood pressure and your cholesterol level. (Elevated cholesterol is a problem for many people on HIV medications.)

What kind of exercise should you do? Ideally, a combination of aerobic exercise, like walking, jogging or bicycling, resistance exercise or weight training, and stretching.

However, almost anything you do will help! Find a sport or activity you enjoy. The key is to keep at it, and the more fun your chosen activity is, the more likely you will!

Keep an eye on your heart.

The number one health problem and leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, so it's important for everyone to do what they can to protect their heart.

If you're on HIV meds-especially if you're on a regimen that includes a protease inhibitor-ask your doctor for a complete cholesterol check, which is also called a "lipid panel." Some HIV medications can raise your LDL ("bad cholesterol") levels along with your triglycerides-another fatty substance in the blood which can contribute to heart disease. If your cholesterol and triglycerides are high, your doctor may prescribe a class of drug called "statins" to help bring them down. In any case, you can help keep your cholesterol under control by learning about nutrition and eating a diet that is low in saturated fats and high in fiber. Exercise also helps keep your cholesterol levels under control.

Eat a healthy diet.

Good nutrition is important for everyone. Experts strongly recommend eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and more whole grains-and less saturated fat and transfat.

Of course, we all know that broccoli is good for you and potato chips are not. But if you really want to be healthy, you need to learn more about nutrition than that-and you need to act on what you've learned.

Don't Smoke.

The dangers of smoking are well-documented-and all the things cigarettes do to healthy people, they do to people with HIV faster. So, if you smoke, stop. If you don't smoke, don't start.

Good health is in your hands. Find yourself a good HIV doctor, take your HIV medications without fail, get some exercise, watch your cholesterol, eat right-and you have a good chance of out-living your HIV-negative friends who smoke and don't take care of themselves!

http://www.hivpositivemagazine.com/what_everyone_should_know_about_HIV_treatment.html

GotSomeKids
by Silver Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 2:07 AM

Yes, I get that.  I know when we were studying this in college in the early 90's, they knew it was possible, but at the time couldn't figure out "why".  If I'm not mistaken, I think they were also having babies born who weren't HIV and couldn't figure out what why some babies were positive while others didn't contrac tit at all.  I'm glad to see they are making so much progress.

Quoting Goodwoman614:



Quoting GotSomeKids:

This is promising, but I've heard of this in the early 90's.  Med probably better now.  I'm curious if there will be any long term side effects of such early treatment.

But there were never any conclusive results to be drawn, because of problems in following these cases. That is why this is being hailed as a first time event.

The short and long term ramifications on being given high dose "treatment" levels of medication so soon after birth certainly will be investigated, but these are drugs that are ready well known to medical establishment and already in use at lower, "therapeutic" levels. It does seem hopeful.

Here is another source on this: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130303172640.htm



AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 9:43 AM
I wish they'd do more research on the "naturally resistant" people. That is a neat story and a half if I ever heard one and I would love to know if they could trace the reasons. I mean we know that a small population of western Europeans whose ancestors somehow survived a particularly nasty brush with a strain of black death have got natural immunity to the virus.
Can only imagine how the thousand year old disease is able to help outsmarting a more recent disease that is a slower but more sure killer. Kinda like how the sickle cell protects those lucky enough to only have one copy of it from all of the terrific dangers of malaria.
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TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 2:12 PM

 I'm glad someone else here remembers this.


Quoting SilverSterling:

I remember from my time working with HIV/AIDS patients (YEARS AGO) That most babies test positive for the HIV Virus when they are born however its not the actual virus but the Antibodies that shows in the test (a false pos i guess) I don't know how I feel about this.. I hope that in the end the child is ok and will live a long happy life.


 

paganbaby
by Teflon Don on Mar. 4, 2013 at 3:37 PM


Quoting NewMom11222011:

I hope this child stays well and virus free.  If this is truly a cure, that's a miracle many have prayed for for years.


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paganbaby
by Teflon Don on Mar. 4, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Bump!

KamWorthy
by Silver Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 5:21 PM
1 mom liked this
I agree! Im so tired of AIDS infecting innocent victims such as babies. This is good news for certain!
Quoting paganbaby:


Quoting NewMom11222011:

I hope this child stays well and virus free.  If this is truly a cure, that's a miracle many have prayed for for years.


SEEKEROFSHELLS
by Platinum Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 5:33 PM

You are thinking of Magic Johnson and protease inhibitors I think.


Quoting Healthystart30:

I thought there were already medications that worked so well the virus was not detected in the blood? But those people still have HIV. Basically I'm not sure if this is such a huge breakthrough, and not all infants are infected in the womb. How do they know that wasn't the case with this baby?
Either way, I am glad this baby is doing well, that's the most important part after all.



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