Written by Suzanne Boothby | Published on March 6, 2013
A “functional cure” for one Mississippi child and new recommendations from the USPSTF may
lead to free, nationwide HIV screening.
Early screening saves lives, and new evidence reveals miraculous potential in the early identificationof HIV infections.
This week, researchers announced the first case of a “functional cure” for HIV—
meaning that thevirus is in remission without the on-going use of medications. A child born more than two years agoin Mississippi to a mother who did not know she was HIV-positive until the time of delivery wastreated with antiretroviral drugs within the first few days of life.The child was treated for ten months and now shows no signs of HIV infection, even after stoppingantiretroviral medication, according to findings presented at the Conference on Retroviruses andOpportunistic Infections in Atlanta.
"For us this is a very exciting finding. By treating a baby very early [we may be able to] prevent viralreservoirs or cells that stay around for the lifetime of an infected person."Typically, expectant mothers with HIV take medication that can almost eliminate the chance that thevirus will be passed on to the child. If the current "cure" can be replicated in a formal study setting,early and aggressive treatment could be used help those children who
infected at birth, especiallyin developing nations.
“Despite the fact that research has given us the tools to prevent mother
-to-child transmission of HIV,
many infants are unfortunately still born infected,” said Anthony S. Fau
,in a statement. “With this case, it appears we
may have not only a positive outcome for the particular child, but also a promising lead for additional
research toward curing other children.”