Aids breakthrough: 2nd baby freed from HIV

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Early drug treatment rids newborns of HIV

Some progress has been made in the treatment of HIV in recent years. For the second time now, doctors have proven to have freed a newborn baby from HIV, reports the "New York Times" in a recent article. The decisive factor for success was the relatively high-dose drug treatment that was initiated as early as possible.

Last year, US scientists surprised the experts at the "Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections" with the astonishing news that a baby born with HIV could only be cured 30 hours after birth through aggressive drug treatment with antiretroviral drugs. But there was still some skepticism. This year Dr. At the same conference, Audra Deveikis of Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, California, again presented a case in which a newborn child could be freed from HIV by such drug therapy. The scientists also said there could be five more such cases in Canada and three in South Africa.

High-dose combination therapy frees newborns from HIV The first cured HIV-infected child was known as a Mississippi baby, is now over three years old and is still virus-free, reports the virologist Dr. Deborah Persaud, from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore opposite the New York Times. The second baby is a girl who was born at Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach and whose mother has advanced AIDS. The mentally ill mother had not taken her prescribed medication, which was supposed to protect the unborn child, so a high risk of infection was assumed. Four hours after the birth, Dr. Audra Deveikis therefore started a high-dose treatment based on the antiretroviral agents AZT, 3TC and nevirapine. Even before the examination of the blood sample was completed, the doctor started drug therapy. "I had heard about the Mississippi baby and knew that early treatment was important," Dr. Deveikis quoted by the "New York Times".

Early treatment crucial for success The pediatrician further explained that she was naturally concerned about using the high-dose combination therapy, "but the mother's disease was not under control and the risk of transmission had to be weighed against the toxicity of the medication." The success the doctor agrees. The girl is now nine months old and HIV-free. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said the well-documented Long Beach case could lead to big changes. This is proof that a successful therapy is possible if treatment is started early enough. Preventive therapy for newborns has been performed with lower doses of two drugs until HIV infection was confirmed by a blood test. The high-dose combination therapy, which is intended to suppress the onset of the disease, only took place when there was a proven HIV infection.

Viruses may still be slumbering in reservoirs According to the doctors, the little girl is now housed in a foster home and no HIV viruses can be detected in blood tests. However, it is not quite right to describe the baby as "cured", because on the one hand drug therapy is still taking place and on the other hand the viruses may still be hidden in hidden cell reservoirs, the doctors report. Theoretically, it would be conceivable that when the medication is stopped, the HI viruses become active again. Therefore, it is "medically unethical" to stop taking the medicines, Dr. Deveikis. However, doctors say they consider a temporary therapy stop if the baby is still virus free at two years of age to see what happens.

Clinical trials for early HIV treatment planned Like medical doctors, a clinical trial with up to 60 HIV-infected babies is currently being planned and should receive combination therapy within 48 hours of birth. This is intended to provide definitive proof of the effect of early, high-dose therapy. However, the case of the Long Beach baby already offers relatively convincing evidence of the success of the treatment, explained Dr. Steven Deeks, AIDS expert at the University of California at San Francisco told The New York Times, adding, "Therapy practically at birth seems to kill the virus before it becomes a permanent reservoir." However, the question remains open when the treatment can be stopped or stopped. (fp)

Image: Katrin Schindler /

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Video: HIV and Children Study


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