by ANDREA FRENCH Section Editor
Doctors in Mississippi gave a 2-year-old with HIV three anti-viral drugs 30 hours after birth, which they believe to be the most important factor into functionally curing this young girl of her HIV.
The girl was the first child to be functionally cured of HIV ever. A functional cure is eliminating so much of a virus that standard HIV tests are not able to detect it. In addition, the patient does not have to receive life-long treatment.
HIV, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, attacks CD4 cells. CD4 cells help your body fight diseases, but when attacked with the HIV virus, a person’s immune system can be severely damaged. Traditional treatment for HIV usually increases the amount of CD4 cells in the body, and it reduces the amount of HIV in the viral load, or blood stream.
“I hear a lot of stuff about people who have HIV and AIDS and how difficult life can be living with these kids of diseases. I think it is so great that we are finding a cure, especially for those who can’t control contracting the disease from their mother,” says sophomore Taylor Zeni.
The mother of the cured young girl was diagnosed with HIV just hours before delivering her baby girl. Researchers have found that 100 percent of mothers transmit antibodies to their babies; however, only 30 percent of those antibodies contain the virus. Furthermore, only two percent of mothers who are given the treatment actually pass on the virus to their children, making it crucial to treat the mother as soon as she tests positive for HIV.
If doctors had known about the mother’s positive diagnosis earlier in the pregnancy, they might have been able to prevent the transmission of HIV to the infant. As soon as the infant was born, doctors started giving her antiretroviral drugs in an attempt to control the HIV infection.
For the next 15 months, the baby remained on the antiretroviral medications, and then for an unknown reason, her mother stopped giving her the drugs. Soon after the mom stopped, care from her general physician was administered. The doctor for the child said that it was likely the main reason this particular child was cured was because the treatment was administered so quickly after she was born.
“I am so glad to hear about these types of cures. These stories are such a big deal simply because cures like this one have never happened before. Over the last week, I’ve heard so many hopeful people talk about how this will lead to cures in other medical fields. Hopefully doctors come up with more situations just likes this one,” says sophomore Michael Perrotta.