Baby Born With HIV Cured By US Doctors

Baby Hand

For the first time in medical history, United States doctors have managed to cure a child born with HIV. Doctors working for the Univeristy of Mississippi Medical Center held a press release reporting that the child does not need medication for HIV, will have a normal life expectancy, and will not be infectious to other people.
The Mississippi born two and a half year old infant has tested negative for the virus for over a year without taking any medication. The case was brought to light on March 3rd at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta, Georgia.
The invention of better drugs and public awareness has cause the number of babies born with HIV to drop significantly. Generally pregnant women who carry HIV are administered anti-retroviral drugs in order to minimize the number of viruses in their blood. After the child is born, it also goes on a course of similar drugs. It is reported that this prevents 98% of the virus transmission from the mom to the newborn.
According to Dr. Hannah Gay, the child’s care giver at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, this case is the first functional cure of a child infected with HIV. Although there is a chance that a small amount of the virus remains, a patient is considered functionally cured when standard testing results are negative for the HIV virus. Not even the most sensitive test are able to detect any traces of the virus one year after medication has been stopped.
Treatment began approximately 30 hours after the baby was born. Generally, HIV positive children are placed on a 3 anti-retroviral drugs that are administered via syringe. The doctor decided to perform a more aggressive treatment due to the mother not receiving any antiretroviral drugs during pregnacny. The mother had not discovered she was HIV positive until she was too close to delivery.
Blood taken from the baby showed it was infected with the virus, most likely before birth. In a positive turn of events a month after starting therapy, the HIV levels had in the blood had dropped low enough that the routine testing was not able to detect it.
Treatment was continued routinely for a year until the month started missing appointments. Eventually they stopped coming and did not show up again for six months. Doctors were expecting the virus levels to be extremely high however, they were shocked to see all of the results coming back as negative.
After examining the findings, Dr. Gay corresponded with Katherine Luzuriga, an exceptional immunologist at Massachusetts Medical School. The child’s blood was sent to the John Hopkins Children’s center where it was retested with more accuratcy. They found slight traces of HIV but no virus capable of reproducing.
Scientist are still unsure of exactly why the treatment was so effective. They suspect the treatment was so effective because of it’s potency and administered quickly after birth. The success has given hope that the doctors may eventually be able to completely remove the virus from all infected newborns.
About 1,200 kids in the United Kingdom and Ireland live with HIV they contracted from the womb, breast milk, or during childbirth. The issue is far more severe in third world countries, over 2.3 million children are infected in Africa.
THE QUICK SCIENCE BEHIND IT:
The drug blocks the HIV virus from replicated in short-living active immune cells. It also blocks the infection from longer living white blood cells (CD4) which the virus can lay dormant in for years. Treatment only works with newborns because the virus has already infected the CD4 cells in adults. Basically it is stopping the virus before it gets a total grip on the immune system.
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