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Researchers describe first 'functional HIV cure' in an infant
Date:3/3/2013

ure a complete eradication of all viral traces from the body a functional cure occurs when viral presence is so minimal, it remains undetectable by standard clinical tests, yet discernible by ultrasensitive methods.

The child described in the current report was born to an HIV-infected mother and received combination antiretroviral treatment beginning 30 hours after birth. A series of tests showed progressively diminishing viral presence in the infant's blood, until it reached undetectable levels 29 days after birth. The infant remained on antivirals until 18 months of age, at which point the child was lost to follow-up for a while and, the researchers say, stopped treatment. Ten months after discontinuation of treatment, the child underwent repeated standard blood tests, none of which detected HIV presence in the blood. Test for HIV-specific antibodies the standard clinical indicator of HIV infection also remained negative throughout.

Currently, high-risk newborns those born to mothers with poorly controlled infections or whose mothers' HIV status is discovered around the time of delivery receive a combination of antivirals at prophylactic doses to prevent infection for six weeks and start therapeutic doses if and once infection is diagnosed. But this particular case, the investigators say, may change the current practice because it highlights the curative potential of very early ART.

Specialists say natural viral suppression without treatment is an exceedingly rare phenomenon observed in less than half a percent of HIV-infected adults, known as "elite controllers," whose immune systems are able to rein in viral replication and keep the virus at clinically undetectable levels. HIV experts have long sought a way to help all HIV patients achieve elite-controller status. The new case, the researchers say, may be that long-sought game-changer because it suggests prompt ART in newborns can do just that.

The investigators cau
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Contact: Lisa Larson
Lisa.larson@umassmed.edu
508-856-2689
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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