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South African Child 'Virtually Cured' of HIV After 1 Year of Treatment

25 Juillet 2017

The trial involved the child being administered a burst of antiretroviral drugs, beginning at nine-weeks old until they were 40-weeks old when the virus became undetectable, and since that time they have not required any more treatment to fight the disease. A South African girl has become only the third child to beat the AIDS virus into long-term remission - nearly nine years and counting - after receiving a drug cocktail in infancy, researchers announced yesterday.

The South African child is not the first to go into remission after treatment for the virus. Eight-and-a-half years after treatment, the child shows no signs of infection, adding another piece to the puzzle of eliminating human immunodeficiency virus.

However, "the fact that remission has been for a long period suggests this is likely to be durable", she told AFP.

"Further study is needed to learn how to induce long-term HIV remission in infected babies", Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which funded the CHER trial, said in a statement.

When the virus was brought under control in the participants, some continued taking oral treatment while others were given an injectable antiretroviral drug (ARV) which was administered every four weeks, or every eight weeks.

This case was described by researchers at the International AIDS Conference in Paris.

The researchers hope that by studying this child, they may gain a better understanding of how a person's body can, in some cases, control HIV without the use of daily drugs.

It started in 2014 in South America, Haiti, Africa and the United States, and some of the earliest participants might be able to try stopping treatment later this year.

A study underway now is testing whether treating HIV-infected newborns within two days of birth can control the virus later after treatment stops.

The most intriguing question for scientists now is figuring out what makes this child's immune system so special.

Scientists believe that aggressive treatment after diagnoses of infection in early life could lead to long-term remission of the disease. "But I also think there was probably a combination of being on treatment early, protecting his immune system and allowing it to get used to the virus and adapt and cope", asserted the researcher on Monday. The tests showed a trace immune system response to the virus but no HIV capable of replicating.

When infected with the HIV virus, humans can not produce the required antibodies to kill it, which is why the HIV vaccine has been a challenge to develop.

Globally, government donor funding for HIV dropped in 2016 to the lowest level since 2010, from $7.5bn to $7bn, said the KFF. Image credit: Pedaids.orgHIV;"Our recipe for success is that we have been able to scale up a lot of the prevention and treatment services in the country", said Okello. The first tantalizing case was the so-called "Mississippi Boy" who began anti-HIV treatment 30 hours after birth. The child continues to be healthy more than 11 years later.

South African Child 'Virtually Cured' of HIV After 1 Year of Treatment