Cautious optimism for 'cure' in HIV-infected babies

Report on second child raises hope that early, aggressive treatment may be game changer.

Cautious Optimism for 'Cure' of HIV-Infected Babies
Cautious Optimism for 'Cure' of HIV-Infected Babies

HealthDay News -- The hope that newborns can be "cured" of HIV with early, aggressive drug treatment was bolstered this week with the announcement that a second baby appears to be free of the virus following therapy that began just four hours after her birth.

The child, born at Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., is now 9 months old and is considered HIV-negative, researchers reported Wednesday at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston.

The first baby apparently cured by early drug therapy -- the so-called "Mississippi baby" -- is now more than 3 years old and also remains free of HIV infection, Deborah Persaud, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, told HealthDay.

Persaud, who presented the findings Wednesday on the California baby, has also been involved with continued monitoring of the Mississippi baby.

A federally-funded clinical trial will start within a couple of months to arrive at a more scientific assessment of the treatment, said Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

He noted that doctors can't yet call the California baby "cured" of HIV infection because she remains on the antiretroviral drug therapy. "The proof of the pudding is when you take the baby off therapy, and the virus does not bounce back," Fauci told HealthDay.

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