Doctors recently released news in what is still a very rare case. Namely, they offered details on the status of a child born with HIV which, after being treated as an infant, is still in remission even almost nine years later.
Antiretroviral drugs can now help keep HIV at bay, but even so, cases of total remission are extremely sporadic.
Child Born With HIV and in Remission: Just the Third Recent Such Case
According to the recent reports, the child is a nine years old girl from South Africa. Born in 2007, doctors diagnosed her as being HIV positive not long after her birth. The girl, whose identity is being protected, started being treated at nine weeks old. She received an early treatment, which then spanned over 40 weeks.
Before starting the treatment, the child reportedly presented very high levels of HIV in her blood. She was then placed on a deferred antiretroviral therapy (ART). At its end, the virus load in her blood appeared to have been suppressed to undetectable levels.
Over the past eight years, the child received no further treatments or antiretroviral medicine. However, a follow-up analysis of the stored blood samples taken over this period indicates that the virus hasn’t returned.
Still, the child is not cured of HIV. Tests at nine and a half years old showed that the girl still has latent HIV. This is a reservoir of the virus which is integrated into a small proportion of immune cells.
However, the nine years old is otherwise healthy and free of symptoms and also present healthy levels of key immune cells.
“To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of sustained control of HIV in a child enrolled in a randomized trial of ART interruption following treatment early in infancy,” says Avy Violari, one of the lead researchers of the new study.
Still, Violari points out that starting the ART treatment early alone can hardly be the only reason behind this long-time remission. So researchers will be trying to determine if the physiology of this child born with HIV has something to do with it.
The scientists believe that the girl is still in remission most probably due to immune system or genetic related factors.
However, more research is still needed to possibly find the reason behind this remission and potentially replicate it.
An update on the study was presented on July 24 at the 9th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science.
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