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Second Baby Believed to be Cured of HIV

Update Date: Mar 06, 2014 03:20 PM EST
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For the second time ever, doctors believe that a baby born HIV-positive has been cured. HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus that causes the body's immune system to deteriorate overtime and is currently incurable. The baby girl was born last summer at the Miller Children's Hospital located in Long Beach, CA.

According to the case report, when the infant, whose mother is diagnosed with AIDS, was born, the doctors agreed to administer high doses of antiretroviral drugs to fight the virus. The infant was given AZT, 3TC and Nevirapine four hours after birth. The doctors reported that after 11 days, they could no longer detect any signs of the virus. Now, after nine months, there are still no signs of the virus present in the body. However, the baby is still on antiretroviral treatment as a precaution to make sure that she is not just going through remission.

"Taking kids off antiretroviral therapy intentionally is not standard of care," said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a virologist with Johns Hopkins Children's Center who has been involved in both cases according to CNN. "At this time, there is no plan to stop treatment."

In the very first case, the infant, who was born in Mississippi, received three high dosages of antiretroviral drugs. The immediate approach of treating the HIV-positive infant appeared to wipe out the virus. Over three years have passed since the doctors 'cured' the infant, who is still HIV-free despite being off medication within the past two years.

Based on these two cases, researchers are hoping to find ways of duplicating the Mississippi HIV case in order to create a standard treatment for HIV-positive infants. However, more research will need to be conducted before they can experiment with stopping antiretroviral drugs. A particular clinical trial designed to examine the effectiveness of using high doses of antiretroviral drugs almost immediately after birth is set to start in a few months. The trial will include up to 60 babies born with HIV who will get treated within 48 hours.

"This could lead to major changes, for two reasons," said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, executive director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases reported by the New York Times. "Both for the welfare of the child, and because it is a huge proof of concept that you can cure someone if you can treat them early enough."

Persaud added, "This has to be done in a clinical trial setting, because really the only way we can prove that we've accomplished remission in these cases is by taking them off treatment, and that's not without risks."

The case report was presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections taking place in Boston, MA this week.

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