This week may be one for the books as doctors report the first case of a baby who has been functionally cured of an HIV infection. The baby, who was born to an HIV-positive mother, was treated with antiretroviral therapy – a combination of three different antiretrovirals – from 30 hours after birth until she was 18 months old. Now two and a half years old, the viral levels in the baby girl remain undetectable. Doctors believe the success of this case can be attributed to the early and aggressive treatment which prevented the formation of viral reservoirs.
Studies are being planned to see if early testing and aggressive treatment can work for other babies, which could lead to a new protocol for quickly testing and treating infants. Current World Health Organization guidelines recommend that infants born to an HIV-infected mother should be treated with a daily dose of ART for 4 to 6 weeks or until testing determines the child’s own HIV status. Only if a baby tests positive is more aggressive treatment initiated, at which time viral reservoirs may have already developed.