Child treated soon after birth successfully managing virus nearly 9 years later
A South African child diagnosed with HIV at one month of age and treated vigorously has suppressed the virus without drugs for almost nine years, researchers announced Monday.
It is the third reported case of treatment in HIV-infected infants that resulted in sustained remission of the virus that causes AIDS.
The now 9-year-old girl received antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 40 weeks after her HIV infection that was discovered shortly after birth.
Treatment was stopped after 40 weeks and the girl’s blood was monitored periodically for any resurgence of the virus.
Almost nine years later without additional treatment, the girl has nearly undetectable levels of HIV and no symptoms.
But there are trace amounts of the virus lingering in a small fraction of the girl’s white blood cells.
The clinical treatment and follow-up care was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a division of the U.S. government's Heath and Human Services division.
“Further study is needed to learn how to induce long-term HIV remission in infected babies," said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), in a statement. "However, this new case strengthens our hope that by treating HIV-infected children for a brief period beginning in infancy, we may be able to spare them the burden of life-long therapy and the health consequences of long-term immune activation typically associated with HIV disease."
In 2010, a child born with HIV in the United States received treatment that started soon after birth and ended 18 months later.
The child was free of the virus for 27 months before it reappeared in her blood.
In 2015, researchers announced a French child who was born in 1996 and diagnosed with an HIV infection at three months old could control the disease without drugs.
That patient received treatment for six to seven years, but managed the infection without drugs 11 years later.