The first case of a “functional cure” in an HIV-infected infant was reported last week by researchers from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School at the 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Atlanta.
The infant in the report underwent antiretroviral therapy (ART) within 30 hours of birth.
“Prompt antiviral therapy in newborns that begins within days of exposure may help infants clear the virus and achieve long-term remission without lifelong treatment by preventing such viral hideouts from forming in the first place,” said Deborah Persaud, MD, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center virologist and lead author on the report.
The researchers continued to test the infant for traces of viral presence until 29 days after birth when levels were undetectable. ART was continued until age 18 months. When researchers followed up with the infant 10 months after last treatment, HIV and HIV-specific antibodies could not be detected in the blood.
Currently, high-risk newborns receive a combination of antivirals at prophylactic doses to prevent infection for 6 weeks and start therapeutic doses if and once infection is diagnosed. This case, the investigators say, highlights the curative potential of very early ART and may change the focus of current practice.
Read the abstract presented at CROI 2013.
Read the news release from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.