Child in South Africa becomes HIV free

Wednesday, 26 Jul, 2017

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.

There have been two other examples of early, limited treatment leading to outcomes like the one seen in this child, Rizza said, including the case of a baby in MS who received treatment just hours after birth and later went into remission for 27 months.

The child, whose identity is not revealed for protection purposes, was given a burst of HIV treatment shortly after birth once it was discovered that the child was infected with HIV. In the child's case, the child miraculously responded to the treatments that were given to her since her birth.

Once this was achieved, some continued taking oral treatment as maintenance while the rest were shifted onto the prototype, injectable ARV, administered every four or eight weeks.

"To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of sustained control of HIV in a child enrolled in a randomized trial of ART interruption following treatment early in infancy", said Avy Violari, co-leader of the study. By further studying this child, researchers could better understand how his immune system is keeping the virus under control and try to replicate this in further trials.

The results suggest a new way of managing the virus that causes Aids without the burden of having to take daily pills.

It's also likely that the South African child has other, innate factors that contributed to that person's HIV remission, the researchers said.

His health was closely monitored as part of the study for the clinical trial investigating the potential for early ART to decrease infant mortality and reduce the need for lifelong treatment among newborns infected with HIV.

"The future outlook of donor funding for HIV remains uncertain, given recently proposed cuts to HIV funding by the United States, amid other competing demands on donor budgets more generally", said the KFF report. The child commenced ART at nine weeks of age, and at the end of the course of treatment, results indicated the viral load had been suppressed to undetectable levels. The level of HIV in their blood will increase, unless they change to a different treatment regimen, which could be more expensive - and, in many countries, still harder to obtain. It was found that an injection every month or two months was just as effective at preventing the virus from returning as daily pills.

An estimated 36.7 million adults and children worldwide have HIV, including at least 88,800 in the UK.

It is worth noting that while there is no active HIV virus in the child's body, the virus has been detected in the child's immune cells.

It was developed to help the immune system respond to multiple strains of HIV.

Hope that early treatment could suppress HIV indefinitely was first raised in 2013 in what became known as the "Mississippi baby" case, in which a young girl was apparently virus-free for two years after early aggressive treatment. However, the country scored poorly in ensuring HIV-positive people had access to treatment, with only 39% of patients undergoing anti-viral therapy.