Local HIV/AIDS advocate weighs in on toddler's cure - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Local HIV/AIDS advocate weighs in on toddler's cure

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Source: MGN Online Source: MGN Online
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

It could prove to be an historic discovery. Doctors say a Mississippi toddler is functionally cured of the HIV virus. Functionally cured means the virus is still present but so small clinical tests cannot detect it in the blood.

"It's a functional cure. So still a little trace of HIV in that baby. It's undetectable that's exciting," Kathie Hiers of Aids Alabama said.

The reason this is a big deal is because it could change the way that infants with HIV are treated.

30 hours after the now two year old girl's birth, doctors gave the baby relatively high doses of three anti-viral drugs. Usually HIV positive newborns get low doses of one or two drugs. The child continued to be treated for 18 months then doctors lost touch with the child's mother. During that time the mom stopped giving the baby it's medicine.

"The mom admitted that she had not been giving the medicine for the past several months, and I fully expected the baby's viral load to have gone back up. But when we drew the test, we got back still an undetectable viral load," HIV pediatric specialist, Dr. Hannah Gay, said.

It was a sort of accidental discovery. One that some doctors say could now change the way infants with HIV are treated.

"Treat it aggressively with triple therapy which typically isn't done in pediatric cases. So triple therapy very early on, hard and fast, early diagnosis to children to make sure that the baby is HIV positive, maybe this is the way to go," Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News said.

AMFAR's research director says ultimately being able to cure HIV infections could have huge implications.

"Because infants who are born HIV positive, may not, in fact, face a lifetime of HIV infection and a lifetime of anti retroviral therapy. This may be something that we can cure. This might be applicable only to this population, But it really is a great optimistic boost to our efforts to find a cure for HIV," AMFAR research director, Rowena Johnston, said.

Hiers says, although trace amounts of the virus are in the baby's system, she does not believe the child will be put back on medicine but will continue to be closely monitored. Hiers says the reason for that is that the medicines used to treat the virus can be very hard on people's systems especially babies.

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