Last March, doctors in Mississippi announced that extremely early and aggressive treatments had functionally cured a baby girl of AIDS. Yesterday, amazing news from a conference in Boston revealed that a second child appears to be in remission after undergoing similar treatment. Everyone fire some cautiously optimistic gunshots into the air and hug.
The announcement was presented by doctors yesterday at the 21st annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, spurring excitement since the similarity between cases shows the apparent health of the Mississippi baby may not be a fluke.
The Associated Press explains how the virus appears to be in remission for both patients:
The girl was born in suburban Los Angeles last April, a month after researchers announced the first case from Mississippi.
A host of sophisticated tests at multiple times suggest the LA baby has completely cleared the virus, said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a Johns Hopkins University physician who led the testing “The baby’s signs are different from what doctors see in patients whose infections are merely suppressed by successful treatment,” she said.
Both baby girls were born from HIV-positive mothers who hadn’t taken the medication necessary to reduce the risk of passing the virus on to their newborns. The babies were administered antiretroviral treatment much earlier than typical in neonate cases—mere hours after being born, and before doctors received test results proving conclusively that the babies were HIV positive.
The Mississippi infant was treated for eighteen months before losing contact with her doctors, then returned ten months later and appeared functionally cured. The Los Angeles infant is still undergoing treatment. Dr.Yvonne Bryson, an infectious disease specialist that worked on the LA case, says “We don’t know if the baby is in remission… but it looks like that.”
Obviously doctors are wary of growing too excited by the infants’ apparent health, but they did announce yesterday that the similarities in cases is inspiring them to launch a new study to further investigate the effectiveness of early and highly aggressive treatment for newborns.
60 newborns from the US and other countries will receive intensive treatment for their first two years of life, until the virus appears to be in remission, at which point Dr. Persaud promises “These kids obviously will be followed very, very closely.”
We’ll be following this case very, very closely as well. Fingers crossed, everyone.
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