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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 (31-40):
SEEKEROFSHELLS
by Platinum Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 5:35 PM

 One percent of Northern Europeans have the gene mutation called Delta 32. Swedes are most likely to have it. You may be thinking of the Berlin patient, cured of aides by having a bone marrow stem cell transplant with a donor that had the gene mutation Delta 32. I know what you are talking about. Yes, he was cured of Aids. EDIT: I wanted to add they did NOT do this to cure him from Aids. He got the transplant because he had leukemia and this cure was a result from the treatment.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

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.



NewMom11222011
by Bronze Member on Mar. 5, 2013 at 8:54 AM
2 moms liked this

The treatment might even cure "guilty" victims of AIDS.

Quoting KamWorthy:

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.



Mama2Spencerninja

UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on Mar. 5, 2013 at 8:56 AM

The mom sounds like a total douche.

No prenatal care, HIV positive, stopped treatment without notifying doctors...It will be a miracle if she actually takes care of the baby.

brookiecookie87
by Platinum Member on Mar. 5, 2013 at 8:57 AM


Perhaps with a little less praying and a little more funding of research scientist can create a cure for adults as well.

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.



Join us on the 99% Moms group!
The Ninety-Nine Percent Moms   

If they enforced bank regulations like they do park rules, we wouldn't be in this mess

NewMom11222011
by Bronze Member on Mar. 5, 2013 at 9:00 AM

I never knew the two were mutually exclusive; I'm all for funding research as well.

Quoting brookiecookie87:


Perhaps with a little less praying and a little more funding of research scientist can create a cure for adults as well.

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.




Mama2Spencerninja

KamWorthy
by Silver Member on Mar. 5, 2013 at 10:49 AM
Ok.
Quoting NewMom11222011:

The treatment might even cure "guilty" victims of AIDS.

Quoting KamWorthy:

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.



KamWorthy
by Silver Member on Mar. 5, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Perhaps, just perhaps we as human beings, intelligent, compassionate, etc...can, dare I say....DO BOTH....?
Quoting brookiecookie87:


Perhaps with a little less praying and a little more funding of research scientist can create a cure for adults as well.

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.



brookiecookie87
by Platinum Member on Mar. 5, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Maybe I worded that wrong.

The amount of prayer doesn't really impact the amount of research scientist will do, or help with their equipment, or labs, or anything else.

I would have no problem with the amount of prayer increasing 1000%. I just believe funding would be a better avenue to help find a cure (for anything).

But when you have people on the science committee who think science is lies from the Pit of Hell. Well it becomes problematic.

Quoting KamWorthy:

Perhaps, just perhaps we as human beings, intelligent, compassionate, etc...can, dare I say....DO BOTH....?
Quoting brookiecookie87:


Perhaps with a little less praying and a little more funding of research scientist can create a cure for adults as well.

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.





Join us on the 99% Moms group!
The Ninety-Nine Percent Moms   

If they enforced bank regulations like they do park rules, we wouldn't be in this mess

KamWorthy
by Silver Member on Mar. 5, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Brookie......The science committe who think science is a lie from the pit of hell? Why even bring up a very small group of unorthadox extremists, and give them any power or credence? It's not problematic, it's an excuse to bash those who trust in prayer.
ms-superwoman
by Silver Member on Mar. 8, 2013 at 4:05 PM

It's a step forward. Hopefully, they can go further and find a cure for everyone.

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