Every day we’re one step closer to eradicating HIV forever. Now that may sound crazy but we now have HIV prevention medication (and every gay and bisexual man should be on it), a forthcoming HIV vaccine, and now researchers have published a report they say confirms the first documented case of HIV remission in a child.
“Our findings suggest that this child’s remission is not a mere fluke but the likely result of aggressive and very early therapy that may have prevented the virus from taking a hold in the child’s immune cells,” says Deborah Persaud, M.D., lead author of the NEJM report and a virologist and pediatric HIV expert at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
According to a release from Johns Hopkins:
The child was born to an HIV-infected mother and began combination anti-retroviral treatment 30 hours after birth. A series of tests in the subsequent days and weeks showed progressively diminishing viral presence in the infant’s blood, until it reached undetectable levels 29 days after birth. The infant remained on antivirals until 18 months of age, at which point the child was lost to follow-up for a while and, physicians say, stopped treatment. Upon return to care, about 10 months after treatment stopped, the child underwent repeated standard HIV tests, none of which detected virus in the blood, according to the report.
The child’s experience, the authors of the report say, provides compelling evidence that HIV-infected infants can achieve viral remission if anti-retroviral therapy begins within hours or days of infection. As a result, a federally funded study set to begin in early 2014 will test the early-treatment method used in the Mississippi case to determine whether the approach could be used in all HIV-infected newborns.
The three-year-old Mississippi patient was the first child to be “functionally cured” of HIV after undergoing unusually early treatment with antiretroviral drugs. This marks the second documented case of HIV remission, and was the first case involving a child. We’re thankful the child is doing well, and hopeful for what this means for all of us in the future.