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In what could be termed the biggest medical breakthrough in the last century, a baby born with the AIDS virus has been cured of the diseases after following an aggressive regime of drugs. This is the second documented case of a person being completely cured of the virus after an adult known as the Berlin Patient was cured as a result of bone-marrow transplant.
This startling piece of information was discovered when the baby's mother stopped treatment and doctors lost track of the baby who was given a bout of heavy drugs (current procedure suggests only a modest daily dose of antiretroviral treatment) about 30 hours after she was born at a rural Mississippi hospital, doctors said at a medical meeting in Atlanta.
The baby was born to an HIV positive mother who didn't know she had the virus so hadn't taken any antiretroviral treatments before giving birth. The infant was immediately put on anti-HIV medication regime which lasted for 18 months after which the mother disappeared. When the child returned for care five months later, it was found that she had an 'undetectable viral load' the baby was no longer considered HIV-positive.
Researchers and experts have cautioned against taking this as a standard case and it has no bearing on most people who contract the virus in adulthood. However, further studies could spur widespread use of such an aggressive regimen in babies born with HIV, most of them in low and middle income countries.
Current WHO guidelines suggest treating infants with a modest daily dose of antiretroviral treatment for four to six weeks, in part because extensive studies haven't been carried out on the subject yet. There's however some evidence to suggest that the doctor's approach of aggressive antiretroviral treatment within 30 hours of the infant's birth may have led to this cure. Experts hypothesize that the heavy dose prevented the formation of the viral reservoirs that harbour the virus. These viral reservoirs are the key hurdle to treatment because even though AIDS drugs prevent the virus from replicating, it continues to lurk in the reservoirs and usually surge back when the treatment is stopped. The baby was constantly tested for the virus and has now been virus-free for one year.
Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of hiv/aids.
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