Research: Aids and Dr Deborah Persaud Essay

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If the girl stays healthy, it would be the world's second reported 'cure'.
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Analysis

There is currently no cure for HIV.

This latest case of a baby girl in the US who was treated within hours of birth and has since been disease-free off HIV medication does not mean we have found this Holy Grail.

While the findings are encouraging, it remains to be seen if the treatment will provide permanent remission.

Experts also say the same treatment would not work in older children and adults with HIV as the virus will have already become too established.

Public health doctors say prevention is still the best way to beat HIV.

If expectant mothers with HIV are given anti-HIV treatment during pregnancy and then have a low-risk Caesarean delivery and do not breastfeed, their babies have a 98% chance of being HIV negative.

Dr Deborah Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, presented the findings at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.

"This is a proof of concept that HIV can be potentially curable in infants," she said.
Cocktail of drugs

In 2007, Timothy Ray Brown became the first person in the world believed to have recovered from HIV.

His infection was eradicated through an elaborate treatment for leukaemia that involved the destruction of his immune system and a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection.

In contrast, the case of the Mississippi baby involved a cocktail of widely available drugs, known as antiretroviral therapy, already used to treat HIV infection in infants.

It suggests the swift treatment wiped out HIV before it could form hideouts in the body.

These so-called reservoirs of dormant cells usually rapidly reinfect anyone who stops medication, said Dr Persaud.

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Dr Deborah Persaud, Johns Hopkins Children's Center: "This sets the stage for paediatric care agenda"

The baby was born in a rural hospital where the mother had only just tested positive for HIV infection.

Because the mother had not been given any prenatal HIV treatment, doctors knew the baby was at high risk of being infected.

Researchers said the baby was then transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Once there, paediatric HIV specialist Dr Hannah Gay put the infant on a cocktail of three standard HIV-fighting drugs at just 30 hours old, even before laboratory tests came back confirming the infection.
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