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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 7 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 10
Second baby reported 'cured' of HIV
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Second baby reported 'cured' of HIV

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Researchers in the U.S. say that a second baby born HIV-positive has been cured by early treatment with antiretroviral drugs.

The nine-month-old California child is now testing negative for HIV. Doctors said they began administering a three-drug antiretroviral 'cocktail' to the infant just four hours after birth.

The previous case was reported in Mississippi in March 2013.

'This is a call to action for us to mobilize and be able to learn from these cases,' Johns Hopkins University pediatrics specialist Dr. Deborah Persaud said at a Boston medical conference.

No trace of the virus can now be found in the infant's blood or tissues, the doctor revealed.

Dr. Persaud said the nine-month-old child is still receiving medications, while the three-year-old Mississippi child stopped receiving antiretroviral treatments two years ago.

'Really the only way we can prove that we have accomplished remission in these kids is by taking them off treatment and that's not without risk,' Dr. Persaud added.

Doctors treating the California child used the word 'remission' rather than 'cure' to describe what they had accomplished. In the Mississippi case, doctors initially announced they had achieved a 'functional cure' for HIV, then also retreated to the word 'remission,' indicating that the child's HIV infection might recur.

In adults, dormant or latent HIV viruses are known to hide undetected in human cells, only to re-emerge later, and doctors did not want to give the impression that they had established an effective treatment for infant HIV infections.

'We felt that for the [New England Journal of Medicine] article the word 'remission' might better communicate to all audiences the concept we were trying to convey,' Dr. Hannah Gay, the doctor who treated the Mississippi child, said last October. 'From the beginning, we have urged caution against labeling this single case as a complete 'cure,' stressing the need to observe the child for a longer period of time to be certain there is no rebound.'

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