HIV might have finally met its match. We report the first documented case of a child being cured of HIV after antiretroviral therapy. Dr. Deborah Persaud of John Hopkins University presented this remarkable case yesterday at the 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Atlanta, Georgia. The breakthrough was confirmed by various ultra-sensitive test on the child, all coming out negative for the presence of the HIV viral load.
The child was born HIV positive, since the mother was also HIV positive. At the age of 2 years, the child in Mississippi was diagnosed with the deadly virus and immediately put on antiretrovirals. This therapy continued for 18 months. After five more months, during which the child was off treatment, the child was tested and the absence of HIV was confirmed via highly sensitive tests. Dr. Persaud said that it was beyond any doubt that the child showed no signs of being HIV positive.
The treatment for HIV depends crucially on the patient’s immune system makeup. Also, an infant’s immune system differs from that of an adult. Scientists want to study the individual’s immune system, especially since the treatment of the patient happened via only very cheap antiretroviral therapy, rather than expensive treatment. No one is really sure how this cure happened.
This is only the second documented case of an HIV cure, the first one being the famous ‘Berlin Patient’, Timothy Ray Brown. He has founded his own AIDS Foundation, the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation, dedicated exclusively to finding a cure for the deadly disease.
However, the Ray Brown case is quite different from this. Even though, the Ray Brown involved a longish course of antiretrovirals, there was a diagnosis of myeloid leukemia in case of Ray Brown. His heamatologist, Dr. Gero Hutter, make a stem-cell bone-marrow transplant from a doner who had a very rare HIV immunity called the CCR5 mutation. A few months later, there was no active HIV viral load in his body.
Nothing nearly as drastic as a stem-cell bone-marrow implant was done in this present case. And that makes this case all the more special.