Child 'cured' of HIV?
HIV researchers in the US say they may have identified a 'functional cure' of a child who was HIV positive but began antiretroviral treatment less than 48 hours after being born.
A 'functional cure' is one where HIV DNA remains detectable in a human body but the virus no longer replicates.
One functional cure in an adult has been reported previously - the so called "Berlin patient" who was declared cured of HIV infection following a bone marrow transplant from a donor with genetically conferred resistance to HIV infection.
The child in the current case has now been off treatment for a year.
The child will need to be monitored to see if the virus remains dormant or if it starts replicating again, but researchers say they are confident the child represents a functional cure.
Dr Deborah Persaud (pictured) of Johns Hopkins University reported to the 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta, Georgia, that the child began treatment at 30 hours old after her previously undiagnosed mother tested positive for HIV.
Persaud stated this was not a case of successful post-exposure prophylaxis, because several blood samples taken during the first week of life had tested positive for viral RNA, indicating the infection had already become established.
Unfortunately, further testing of these samples is not possible because the samples were destroyed, because no-one could have known their future significance.
Persaud said trials are now being developed to see if the same results can be attained in similar cases.