HIV positive infant cured at John Hopkins

In the most inspiring science story for some time, John Hopkins Children’s Center are reporting that an infant, now aged two, who has not been medicated for twelve months has been cured of the HIV virus.

A HIV patient known as ‘the Berlin patient’ had been cured of the HIV virus but the circumstances were somewhat different. The patient, Timothy Brown had received a bone marrow transplant to treat acute myeloid leukemia from a bone marrow donor was not only HIV-negative, but had an unusual genetic condition that made them HIV resistant.

“The baby, born in rural Mississippi, was treated aggressively with antiretroviral drugs starting around 30 hours after birth, something that is not usually done. If further study shows this works in other babies, it will almost certainly be recommended globally. The United Nations estimates that 330,000 babies were newly infected in 2011, the most recent year for which there is data, and that more than three million children globally are living with H.I.V.”

— New York Times

The case of the infant from Mississippi though is known a a ‘functional cure’; medication has ceased and the patient tests negative, although it is likely that tiny traces of HIV remain in the patients system. That said, doctors believe the infant’s life-expectancy to be normal and they are unlikely to pass the infection to another person.

Medical staff started treatment within 48 hours of the baby’s birth using three anti-retroviral drugs, delivered in liquid form, differing from the established single drug treatment – this more aggressive treatmement taken as the mother had not been treated with any anti-retrovirals during her pregnancy.

  1. Paper #48LB: Functional HIV Cure after Very Early ART of an Infected Infant
  2. Dr Hannah Gay : University of Mississippi Medical Center 
  3. Deborah Persaud: Clinician first, scientist second
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