Health Care

Child Born With HIV Has Been In Remission For 9 Years

HIV  AIDS strategic plan

International AIDS Society president Linda-Gail Bekker and President of the French National Ethics Advisory Committee and conference chairman Jean-Francois Delfraissy speak at the opening of the 9th International AIDS Society conference on HIV Science on July 23, 2017 in Paris.

The first tantalizing case was the so-called "Mississippi Boy" who began anti-HIV treatment 30 hours after birth. The child has reportedly been living without the aid of drugs for nearly eight and a half years now, without showing any symptoms or signs of active HIV virus.

Most people affected with HIV need treatment throughout their lives to control the HIV that can destroy the immune system and cause AIDS.

"With global political will and funding for HIV on the decline. these patients arriving at hospitals sick with AIDS will have any hope of reprieve snatched away", said Mit Philips, health policy advisor at MSF.

Following an announcement that a formerly infected child in South Africa had been living for more than eight years without showing symptoms of the HIV virus, new hope has arisen for a cure for the deadly disease.

A long-acting injectable antiretroviral therapy may be just as effective as a daily oral dose in treating HIV, a trial has shown.

Dr. Avy Violari, paediatric research head at the Perinal HIV Research Unit in Johannesburg, said, "We don't believe that antiretroviral therapy alone can lead to remission". Another difficulty is that "nobody knows" what makes the few cases of long-term remission possible, though it's likely due to a combination of factors, including "something unique and special" in their immune systems, Rizza added.

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The South-African child is the only case till date that appears to be a virtually complete HIV cure.

Still, the child is not cured of HIV.

The South African child does not have the genetic profile of the rare individuals who have not become infected with HIV in spite of being exposed to the virus, who include some sex workers.

When infected with the HIV virus, humans can not produce the required antibodies to kill it, which is why the HIV vaccine has been a challenge to develop.

Meanwhile, there was also a case in France where a patient has now lived for more than 11 years without drugs. The virus - unlike anyone else in the trial - has not returned in the child. Viral and host characteristics of a child with perinatal HIV-1 following a prolonged period after ART cessation in the CHER trial. When researchers conducted a thorough analysis of the child's blood at nine-and-a-half years of age, they detected a reservoir of virus integrated into a tiny proportion of immune cells - called latent HIV - the sole remaining evidence of any HIV infection.

Treatment was stopped after 40 weeks and the girl's blood was monitored periodically for any resurgence of the virus.

Two similar cases have been reported of long-term HIV remission in a child after early, limited treatment with antiretroviral drugs.