It was announced on Sunday that a baby from Mississippi, United States had been cured of HIV. It is the first time in history that a child is cured. The baby was intensively treated with the combination of three antiretrovirals for 30 hours right after the birth.
The novice method of treatment has never previously been used. In fact, in this case doctors were worried about the baby's life since its mother had been diagnosed with HIV only weeks before delivery.
They aimed at controlling the virus's replication. So the eradication of it from the infant's body can be called an accident.
According to the doctors, intense therapy during the first hours of life prevented the virus from forming reservoirs in the body.
They are cells where HIV can stay dormant effectively hiding from medication, and as soon as therapy stops they can spring back to life within weeks and cause the infection to show up again.
Within 28 days the HIV levels in baby's blood were undetectable. The therapy stopped at 18 months and when the next test was done at 28 months HIV still could not be found.
This is being described as a “functional cure”, because it means standard tests can not find HIV, but ultra-sensitive methods may still do so.
It is not a “sterilizing cure” when the virus has gone completely. Nonetheless, it has greatly excited scientific community, and means a lot for the baby.
Only one person has been documented to be cured of HIV before. That is Timothy Brown from Germany. And his story was completely different. His leukemia was cured with the help of bone-marrow transplant from a donor who was genetically resistant to Human immunodeficiency virus.
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