AIDS-baby cured

An amazing story, and reportedly only the second case where someone has been effectively “cured” of having HIV/AIDS.

In this case the baby was born with a high-risk of having HIV – they discovered the mother was HIV+ during birth – so the doctor didn’t wait for tests and started giving the baby larger-than-normal doses of anti-HIV drugs within the first 30 hours after birth.

They kept medicating the baby for a good year and half.  The child is now two and a half years old, has been off medication for a year, and his HIV is still in remissions, with only small traces of the virus in his blood, that’s why they’re calling it effectively cured.  Normally, the virus starts replicating again if you go off your medication for long.

AIDS Ribbon via Shutterstock

AIDS Ribbon via Shutterstock

AP notes that 300,000 kids were born with HIV in 2011.  Most of the cases occur outside of the US.

About 300,000 children were born with HIV in 2011, mostly in poor countries where only about 60 percent of infected pregnant women get treatment that can keep them from passing the virus to their babies. In the U.S., such births are very rare because HIV testing and treatment long have been part of prenatal care.

“We can’t promise to cure babies who are infected. We can promise to prevent the vast majority of transmissions if the moms are tested during every pregnancy,” Gay stressed.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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25 Responses to “AIDS-baby cured”

  1. Sweetie says:

    “Some people (HIV controllers) can have HIV, have it replicate in their body in some low levels, never go on medication, and never, ever, get AIDS.”

    It can mutate. The potential is there. The main point is that AIDS is the term for the symptoms of HIV infection.

  2. Yes, it does. You stated “Technically, anyone with HIV in their body has AIDS as long as any HIV virus exists that is capable of replication”. Some people (HIV controllers) can have HIV, have it replicate in their body in some low levels, never go on medication, and never, ever, get AIDS. I was in such a study. My viral load was only 170 when I went on meds, because of fatigue, not because of high virus replication.

  3. Sweetie says:

    “According to the US CDC definition, a patient has AIDS if he or she is infected with HIV and presents with one of the following: A CD4+ T-cell count below 200 cells/µl (or a CD4+ T-cell percentage of total lymphocytes of less than 15%) or the person has one of the defining illnesses.”

    That definition doesn’t contradict mine, really. It just sets a damage threshold.

  4. Psyspace says:

    I guess…I hope you’re correct.

  5. The article is not specific enough about what test . There is no such thing as a “standard test” for HIV . There different kinds of antibody tests, and a PCR test, and probably a few other.

    The “undetectable” refers to the viral load. Most people with HIV who are on treatment eventually achieve this status. But we will still test positive on an HIV antibody screening test.

  6. The title really needs to be changed to HIV+ baby cured.

  7. No, not anyone with HIV in their body has AIDS.

    AIDS has a very specific clinical definition .

    I do not think that baby ever met that definition, and thus it was never an “AIDS-baby”.

    I believe Timothy Ray Brown, on the other hand, did once have AIDS.

  8. Aranka King says:

    To be fair, it says AIDS – baby cured. Not.. AIDS baby

  9. DEClark says:

    Here’s the link to an abstract of the oral presentation of the case. Clearly, the neonate was infected, had had the infection during gestation and now has no evidence of active HIV infection at this time. When patients with an undetectable viral load stop ART, virus that has been sequestered in their bodies, reactivates and VL soon increases again. This hasn’t happened here.

    The child did not have a “potential” for HIV infection, the child was definitely infected with the virus. See the abstract. The story in the NYT says “HIV” not “AIDS” as does the scientific report.

    BTW, the doctor who initially started the triple antibiotic therapy in the infant (rather than just a single antiretroviral) is named Hannah B. Gay

  10. ronbo says:

    Does the story indicate the child was EVER HIV+?

  11. Psyspace says:

    “AIDS Baby?” John, really?

  12. karmanot says:

    Good question because the undetectable is still a spectrum of presence.

  13. karmanot says:

    Praise jezbus holy name….it’s a miracle I say….a miracle.

  14. Sweetie says:

    An epidemiologist I knew said, back in 2000, that it’s impossible to truly cure AIDS (probably because of the strongholds and the way the virus so rapidly proliferates and uses T cells). However, the man who received the bone marrow transplant from a resistant donor apparently was cured, despite having an established care of HIV. Unfortunately, such transplants are not a suitable solution for everyone who is infected. AIDS is just a term for symptoms from HIV infection caused by progressive immune system degradation, so it’s not black and white. Technically, anyone with HIV in their body has AIDS as long as any HIV virus exists that is capable of replication. It just varies from unnoticeably mild (at that time) to terminal. Those who have the virus under control with meds and such don’t progress out of mild as long as the control is maintained. I wonder if even the “cured” man still has the virus hiding out somewhere in his body, with the potential to mutate into a form the marrow resistance can’t deal with.

  15. Freedonian says:

    Even though it is a unit of Ole Miss, UMMC is located in Jackson [Fondren neighborhood], which is a small patch of blue in a sea of red, much like Austin. Many of my neighbors are researchers there and I am just ‘tickled pink’ at this accomplishment.

  16. bkmn says:

    The child was born with a strong potential for HIV infection, but never had AIDS. The treatment did not allow the HIV virus to establish strongholds in his/her body, but the kid never had AIDS.

    There is a difference between HIV and AIDS.

    I am surprised that anyone in the gay community who had friends that died of AIDS would allow this story to go on in the echo chamber of the internet without raising the distinction that HIV and AIDS are not the same thing.

  17. Kes says:

    Well…there is the part of the story where the mother stopped the course of treatment (which was longer than normal and experimental); the article up on CNN (though not the AP one) strongly suggests that the university medical center got a court order to compel the mother to continue with the experimental treatment. Plus, this wouldn’t’ve even been an issue if the mother’d had access to pre-natal testing and care, so that she could’ve had a course of retrovirals during the pregnancy (which brings the likelihood of passing on HIV to the infant down to something like 2%).
    So if you really want to start talking about the significance of this occurring in Mississippi, we could always bring up THAT kettle of (misogynistic) fish.

  18. hollywoodstein says:

    That’s because Mississippi and Ole Miss still have too many racist bigots doing awful things.

  19. Naja pallida says:

    You’re right. This should be lauded coming from a publicly funded university, despite the painful cuts to education and health care pushed by the previous governor, and a current governor who says government shouldn’t be involved in health care because “There is no one who doesn’t have health care in America. No one.”

  20. Suemarie says:

    Great news. But I hope I never see the term “AIDS baby” again.

  21. Jafafa Hots says:

    Someone’s looking for something to be outraged about, I see.

  22. I find it interesting that this report painfully avoids mentioning that this happened in Mississippi and from a doctor at the University of Mississippi Medical school. Yet when something awful happens in Mississippi or Ole Miss it’s ALL about being Mississippi and Ole Miss. Funny how that works.

  23. dula says:

    I suppose this is different from the significant number of HIV+ people with undetectable viral loads.

  24. Correct. For now.

  25. dula says:

    Don’t a significant number of HIV+ people have undetectable viral loads on medication?

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