According to Reuters news site, dated 2-3-13, there has been an official announcement that a child's medical team at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, Maryland has successfully cured a baby girl of her HIV infection. Just 30 hours after she was born in Mississippi, the baby girl unnamed in the news and now cured of her HIV infection, tested positive for HIV. The doctors that tested her said they did multiple tests on her blood and DNA that showed that she was positively infected with her mother's HIV strand. Because her mother had not been receiving prenatal care in the beginning stages of her pregnancy, the doctor that seen her later in her term knew that the baby would be at high risk for contracting her mother's infection. Because this was the mother's first doctor since she had gotten pregnant the doctor routinely tested her for HIV and found the results positive.
Just 30 hours into her life the Mississippi baby was started on a cocktail of medications that are usually used for Leukemia patients, but also for HIV patients. The difference in this patient and the usual ones according to numerous news reports is that the baby was given a cocktail of three medications to combat the virus. Usually a baby born with HIV would be placed on one medication called, nevirapine. This baby was given nevirapine, zidovudine (also known as AZT), and lamivudine together in a cocktail. In a matter of just 29 days the child's blood tested negative for HIV and further testing on DNA and viral strands in her body turned up the same negative results. The doctors wanted to make sure that this would work so for 18 more months the child was kept on the treatment.
Around about 18 months the mother stopped taking the baby to the treatments for an unknown reason. For 10 months the baby was not seen nor received any treatments, and then the mother brought the baby back in for a checkup. When Dr. Hannah Gay, who is a pediatric HIV specialist, seen the child again she tested her blood. The child's blood showed no traces of HIV nor any viral infection associated with HIV. Dr Gay was shocked and ordered further tests of the girl's DNA, and viral strands in the body as well as tests that would show if the virus was lying dormant as Aids usually does. The tests showed no virus, no trace so Dr. Gay contacted an expert, Dr. Deborah Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
After numerous tests and searching for dormant viral pools as well as DNA tests the doctors came to the conclusion that the baby girl had been cured of HIV. According to Reuters, “The child's story is different from the now famous case of Timothy Ray Brown, the so-called "Berlin patient," whose HIV infection was completely eradicated through an elaborate treatment for leukemia in 2007 that involved the destruction of his immune system and a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection. "We believe this is our Timothy Brown case to spur research interest toward a cure for HIV infection in children," Persaud said at a news conference.
Of course there will be skeptics that will question the doctors tests that showed the child was even infected with the virus when she was born. Such skeptical things could be said as, “The child never was infected.” So in order to combat the skeptics, measures are being taken to show proof that the child was infected at birth. Records are being created that prove the child was infected with the same strand as the mother and was so infected at birth. If this cure is actually real we could be talking a whole new world for many younger patients who would normally be born with AIDS and then live their whole lives infected. Although there are measures in place to protect babies born from mothers that have HIV, a lot of children are still born with the virus.
Before this cure can be made available to others that are living with HIV both younger and older patients, a lot of research is being conducted to show just what the details of this child's cure actually is. They have to know whether or not this cure can also work for older patients, other younger patients and those that are living as a carrier only. Either way, this is great news and the medical community as well as everyone in the US are celebrating this cure and the life of the Mississippi baby girl!