A new chapter has been unveiled in the fight against HIV. According to CNN.com, doctors said this discovery occurred by accident. A newborn baby in Mississippi who was diagnosed with AIDS was given high doses of three antiretroviral drugs 30 hours after delivery. Doctors knew the mother was HIV positive and had administered the drugs in order to try controlling the virus. And two years later there has been no sign of HIV in the toddler’s blood.
This is the first child who is known to be cured from HIV; according to researchers, they believe that early intervention with the antiretroviral drugs was a key to the outcome. The unidentified toddler was born to an HIV positive mother who received no prenatal care, and was herself not diagnosed as HIV positive until just after delivery.
According to Pediatric HIV specialist Dr. Hannah Gay at the University of Mississippi Center, “We didn’t have the opportunity to treat the mother during the pregnancy as we would like to be able to prevent transmission in the baby.” Once it was determined the mother was HIV positive, Dr. Gay right away administered infant antiretroviral drugs upon the baby’s delivery in order to control the HIV infection. A couple of days later, it was confirmed the child was HIV positive, and the baby was probably affected in the womb. The child was on antiretroviral drugs for about 15 months, until her mother stopped administering drugs for an unknown reason. Health officials had to intervene in order to administer the drugs in the child.
According to researchers it is important to treat HIV positive mothers early because they can pass antibodies on to their children. Newborns are considered high risk if mothers are not under control or if the mother is found to be HIV positive right before delivery. In most cases infants are given antiviral drugs at preventative doses for six weeks to prevent infection, and then start therapy when HIV is diagnosed.
The child was given antiretroviral medication (ART) upon delivery. This drug is a combination of at least three drugs that suppress the virus, helping it to stop the progression of the disease. The drug does not help to kill the virus. Various tests showed the viruses in the child’s blood continually decreased and reached undetectable levels by 29 days of treatment. Many doctors believe that, “Early treatment led to the infant’s cure.” Many doctors also believe that, “The antiviral treatment was administered right away after birth; this may help to clear the virus and fulfill remission without having to take lifelong treatments.” Many doctors and researchers are fascinated by this case, and they hope to do further studies which can show effective treatment or therapy with similar outcome.
It is amazing to see how a toddler was completely cured from HIV. HIV is a virus in which many people are diagnosed with and unfortunately there has been no known cure. Though researchers and doctors are doing further research, the sign for a cure might come from early intervention of the patient and the antiretroviral medication that was used. The earlier the patient is treated for HIV, the faster the virus can slow down. More research should be done on the ART medication that was used on this toddler; there may be something in that drug that causes the virus to be suppressed. This case can give a light of hope to those who are trying to find a cure to the virus.