The news that a second infant may have been cured of HIV has raised possibilities for the early treatment of infected newborns.
On Wednesday doctors shared that an infant girl born to a high-risk mother in the Los Angeles area was possibly in remission. Doctors aren’t quite ready to say so, but according to Dr. Yvonne Bryson, an infectious disease specialist at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, “it looks like that.”
There is a great deal of cautious optimism surrounding the case, which would be the second of its kind.
Last April, there was a case of a toddler in Mississippi who had received early treatment for HIV which resulted in the disease going into remission. It continues to be so despite the now three-year-old girl having no treatment for roughly two years. She had been treated until about the age of 18 months. Ten months later, when the girl was brought back to the doctor, there was no sign of infection.
Despite the Los Angeles infant’s possible remission status, it is noted that she is still receiving treatment for HIV.
Incredible. Doctors cure baby born with HIV. http://t.co/PBXEigoD6J
— 1077 The End (@1077TheEnd) March 6, 2014
The uncertainty arises from what happens when the girl stops her treatment. There is a possibility that once the infant is taken off treatment, the virus can come back.
Still, there is a good reason to be hopeful about this long term outcome of this second case.
Dr. Deborah Persaud, a Johns Hopkins University physician who led the testing on the infected infant, said that the “signs are different from what doctors see in patients whose infections are merely suppressed by successful treatment.”
The baby was born to a mother that the doctors at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach knew through a “previous pregnancy”. Dr. Audra Deveikis, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, said the mother had not taken her AIDS medication during the pregnancy, and the child was tested positive for HIV at birth, despite medication given to the mother while she was in labor.
The baby is continuing her treatment while in foster care. According to Bryson she is “looking very healthy”.
Image via Wikimedia Commons