a mississippi toddler was born in july 2010 infected with hiv & treated within 30 hours of delivery with aggressive hiv therapy, which continued for 30 months. she is now considered cured of her infection - a medical first for an infant - a team of researchers, led by dr. deborah persaud, a virologist at johns hopkins university in baltimore said at a news conference at the conference on retroviruses & opportunistic infections in atlanta last sunday.
"from a clinical perspective, this means that is you can get an infected baby on to antiretroviral drugs immediately after delivery, it's going to be possible to prevent or reverse the infection, essentially cure the baby," said dr. steven deeks. deeks is an hiv/aids researcher at the university of california at san francisco. he attended the conference, where the case was presented to researchers monday.
deeks and others hailed the findings as a great advance in the search for a cure in babies born infected with hiv. but the researchers said they also suggest the need for better ways to diagnose hiv infection, typically a six week process. deeks said, "this could have a profound effect on how we approach babies born to hiv-infected moms."
treatment of hiv-infected mothers before delivery is the best way to prevent hiv infection of infants, many experts say. but even in resource-rich countries like america, 100 to 200 babies are born annually with hiv, said dr. anthony fauci, director of the national institute of allergy & infectious diseases, part of the national institutes of health.
worldwide, especially in developing countries, as many as 1,000 babies are born infected each day. for these children, the findings could have a major impact on the "terrible burden of hiv infection throughout the world," fauci said. michel sidibe, executive director of the joint united nations programme on hiv/aids (unaids), said the news "gives us great hope that a cure for hiv in children is possible," but it also underscores the need for research & innovation, "especially in the area of early diagnostics."
fauci said the mississippi child's case was an important "proof of concept" but cautioned it was only one case & it needs to be further validated. fauci said, "the real question is will this be broadly applicable to other infants?" fauci said there's a risk without better diagnostics, children who were never infected in the first place could be exposed to toxic drugs with very early treatment.
dr. hannah gay, a pediatric hiv specialist at the university of mississippi medical center in jackson, made the call to treat the child with hiv drugs even before her infection was confirmed - she believed the child was at such great risk of infection. but had she been wrong, the therapy would have been stopped.
"since the mother had really been at such high risk of transmitting to the baby, they decided to treat on square one," said fauci, as opposed to giving the child a lower, preventative dose of drugs until test results confirm an infection. fauci said, "the approach of treating really, really early needs to be pursued. when we get better diagnostics where we can tell within the first day or so whether the baby is infected, an approach like this looks like it might be a reasonable thing to pursue with the appropriate clinical trials."
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.