A Mississippi baby born with the AIDS virus appears to have been cured after being treated with an aggressive regimen of drugs just after her birth 2½ years ago, and has become acase that could trigger changes in care for hundreds of thousands of babies born globally each year with HIV.
The findings, reported Sunday by researchers, mark only the second documented case of a patient being cured of infection with the human immune-deficiency virus. The first, an adult man known as the Berlin patient, was cured as a result of a 2007 bone-marrow transplant.
The new case was discovered after the baby girl’s mother stopped treatment on her, and doctors realized that the virus was undetectable even without drugs, which HIV patients normally must take for the rest of their lives
Researchers believe that a doctor’s decision to start an aggressive antiretroviral treatment within 31 hours of the infant’s birth led to the cure. They theorize that the drugs prevented the formation of so-called viral reservoirs that harbor the virus. These reservoirs have been the key stumbling block to a cure because even though AIDS drugs stop HIV from replicating, the virus lurks in the reservoirs, ready to come surging back when treatment is stopped.
Dr. Deborah Persaud, a pediatrician and AIDS researcher at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore and lead author of a study reporting the cure. “That’s really unheard of. If people go off therapy, most of them rebound…within a few weeks.”
She described the findings at a news conference Sunday in advance of their presentation Monday at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.