After a baby born last year with HIV was deemed potentially HIV-free, there was much cause for celebration. Now doctors are even more stoked because a second child born with HIV has been treated and found to have cleared the virus.
When the Mississippi baby (as the first child was known) was born, doctors originally weren't sure whether the mother was HIV-positive. Though they treated the child with antiretrovirals, there was some confusion over whether the Mississippi baby had ever had HIV to begin with. After the first treatment, the mother stopped giving the baby the prescribed drugs. Even so, when baby was tested for the disease five months after its birth, it seemed be HIV-free.
This second case is much more cut and dry, and according to researchers, much more promising. A baby girl doctors refer to as the Long Beach or Los Angeles baby, she was born to a mentally ill mother with advanced AIDS. The Long Beach baby is 9 months old and, after being treated with the medication since birth, appears to be HIV free. According to the New York Times:
Both DNA and RNA of the virus were found in the baby's early blood and spinal fluid samples, so Dr. Persaud said it was virtually certain she was infected at both. The virus began to disappear six days after birth and was undetectable within 11 days.
The baby will stay on medication which should keep in her in remission, but as one doctor noted, "The only way we know that we really have remission is to stop therapy."
The news of the Long Beach baby's status was revealed at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, which has been chock full of interesting revelations regarding HIV/AIDs. Because of the success of these two cases, a clinical trial with 60 babies will begin in two months. Though the rates of children born with HIV are low in the U.S. (about 200 a year because of good prenatal care), there are 250,000 children born worldwide each year that would benefit from this treatment.
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