When it happened the first time, experts as well as the public greeted the news with both hope and suspicion. Now that a second baby born with HIV has reportedly been treated successfully, those experts are listening a little more closely.
At a conference spotlighting HIV/AIDS in Boston on Wednesday, doctors revealed that a baby girl born last summer in Long Beach, Calif., to a mother with AIDS had been given an aggressive treatment of antriretroviral drugs—AZT, 3TC and nevirapine—just hours after birth.
She is now 9 months old and apparently free of the virus. In fact, according to the New York Times, the virus was undetectable within 11 days after treatment.
That early treatment appears to be key to a possible cure.
The Long Beach-born baby is the second child who has recovered quickly from the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Last year at the same conference, scientists announced that an infant now known as the "Mississippi Baby" had been successfully treated after similar treatment—that is, aggressive doses of the antiretroviral drugs shortly after birth.
In fact, the child "had apparently been cured ... just 30 hours after birth," the Times writes. Not only that, but the child is now 3 years old and still virus-free.
“This could lead to major changes, for two reasons,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, executive director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells the Times. “Both for the welfare of the child, and because it is a huge proof of concept that you can cure someone if you can treat them early enough.”
A clinical trial that will aggressively treat up to 60 infected babies within 48 hours will begin soon, a researcher said at the conference, according to the news site.
And while some experts are saying that the second child has been "cured" of the virus, Dr. Deborah Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, tells the Times that the girl is not "cured" or even "in remission" because she is still taking the drugs.
However, sensitive blood tests show that the child has no trace of the HIV virus.