Scientists are now claiming to have accomplished what we once thought was impossible. A Mississippi baby born over two years ago with HIV appears to have been effectively “cured” of the deadly virus. This is a landmark case in antiretroviral science. This is the first documented case of a child being able to overcome HIV, and it is only the second case in history that a person has been cured. Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins University, one of the lead researchers and author of the report, announced the scientific breakthrough at the 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta, GA.
Persaud and her team credit an unconventional cocktail of drugs, given immediately to the infant as the cure. At only 30 hours old, doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center gave the infant a combination of AZT, 3TC, and nevirapine- drugs usually prescribed much later in life.
“If one had to make an educational guess, the difference was receiving the treatment dose very soon after birth, earlier than standard of care in the U.S.,” Dr. Rowena Johnston, director of The Foundation for AIDS Research said.
The virus was detectable three times in their early research and then became undetectable by only one month of age. The baby continued to be treated by the doctors for about a year, when the doctors suddenly lost contact with the baby’s mother. Though the child received no medication from 15 months to 23 months, when they resurfaced, the doctors were shocked to find that they were still unable to detect the virus.
Though scientists are careful to warn hopeful mothers and patients that one case is not enough to be considered scientific fact, this is still a tremendous leap toward the advancement of our knowledge base. Perhaps this will be able to help other children and lead us in the direction of a universal cure.