Curing babies born with HIV is no longer out of the question: An HIV-positive newborn treated immediately with antiviral drugs is now 3 years old and free of infection, researchers announced in March and confirmed in a paper in October.
The method will be tested in more infants in the hopes of helping the roughly 330,000 babies born worldwide each year with HIV.
This baby’s mother was HIV-positive. The newborn also tested positive, but instead of treating with one drug, as is usually done for HIV-positive babies, an HIV specialist began a standard combination of drugs within two days.
The mother stopped treating her daughter by the time she was 18 months old, but when doctors examined the child five months later, they saw no sign of HIV. “There was no rebound of the virus,” says pediatrician Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, who helped to write the October paper.
Doctors will keep testing the child, since it’s possible the virus may return, but Persaud believes the drugs prevented HIV from getting established in the baby’s body. Pediatric HIV experts are planning a clinical trial to test the regimen in other infected newborns.
[This article originally appeared in print as "Drug Cocktail Cures HIV-Positive Baby."]