HIV cured in baby for the first time, scientists claim
A baby girl in Mississippi who was born with HIV has been cured
after very early treatment with standard HIV drugs, US researchers
reported yesterday, in a potentially ground-breaking case that
could offer insights on how to
Washington: The report of an American toddler "functionally cured" of
HIV has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the global fight to end
the AIDS epidemic, but researchers suggest treating the
development with caution.
Calling it "The Intriguing Case of a Baby Cured of HIV", The New
York Times editorially said: "There are reasons to treat this
apparent breakthrough cautiously."
"Researchers must still demonstrate conclusively that the baby had
truly been infected and was not simply prevented from absorbing
its mother's infection - a process achieved routinely in many
babies," it said.
"They must also show that this is not an exceptional,
non-replicable case with an atypical baby, but that the same
treatment would work in other newborns," the influential US daily
Doctors cited by USA today agreed that extending the success in
curing the 2-year Mississippi girl infected with HIV at birth
"will be a challenge".
Noting that more than 300,000 babies a year worldwide are born
infected with HIV, researchers cautioned that "it will likely take
years before they're able to extend that success to a broader
community of patients, if ever".
Doctors credit the child's cure to early treatment; her physicians
began treatment soon after delivery, which is the standard of care
for the child of an untreated, HIV-positive mother.
Most adults can't benefit from such early therapy, because they
typically don't even learn that they're infected for months or
years, USA Today said citing Rana Chakraborty, an associate
professor of paediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine.
While the child's story has been hailed as a victory for science,
Chakraborty said the case also illustrates the single greatest
challenge in treating AIDS: actually getting care to patients.
Delivering on the promise of scientific breakthroughs has been a
challenge not just in developing countries of Africa, but in the
US, the daily said.
Only 28 percent of people of the 1.2 million HIV-positive
Americans have been diagnosed and treated successfully so that
their levels of virus are undetectable, according to the Centres
for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, CNN said the toddler's case could have wide-ranging
effects on the global fight to end the AIDS epidemic.
"If we can replicate this in other infants ... this has huge
implications for the burden of infection that's occurring
globally," Deborah Persaud, a paediatrician at the Johns Hopkins
Children's Centre was quoted as saying.
"For the unfortunate ones who do get infected, if this can be
replicated, this would offer real hope of clearing the virus,"
added Persaud the lead author of a report on the toddler's case.
"We are enthusiastic about the potential of this case, but it is
one case and it needs to be replicated and confirmed through
future studies and clinical trials," said Meg Doherty, the World
Health Organization's Department of HIV/AIDS coordinator of
treatment and care, as cited by CNN.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)