For the first time ever a child has been cured of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The mother of the child was unaware of her own infection until it was too late to implement the standard strategies that are used to prevent mother to infant transmission of the virus. Given that the new-born’s risk of infection was high (as the mother had received no treatment), doctors began treating the child 30 hours after birth with a mixture of three antiretroviral drugs. This strategy was unusual as normally only one drug would be used, but a more intense treatment was thought necessary in this situation. It was confirmed beyond doubt that both mother and child were HIV positive. The child stopped taking antiretroviral drugs at 18 months but five months later there was no detectable amount of virus in the child’s system.
The cure of the child has been confirmed and doctors expect that the child (now two years of age) will have a normal life expectancy and a healthy life. This cure could allow future children, born with HIV, to be cured relatively easily; and it could further research into the immune system of infants and the differences that exist between it and the adult immune system.
Read more about HIV and AIDS on the World Health Organisation website
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