A Child Born With HIV Is Officially In Remission — Without Drugs

A nine-year-old child born with HIV has become the third global reported case in which a child born with HIV was able to have their condition controlled without the use of drugs, BBC reports.

According to BBC, the child lives in South Africa, though their identity is being protected. The child contracted HIV from their mother at birth in 2007, and was given a burst of treatment shortly after being born. The child was part of a study of a group of 143 infants who received antiretroviral therapy early on. As Time reports, the child was given 40 weeks of treatment, after which researchers stopped the therapy and monitored their condition.

Since then, they have gone eight-and-a-half years without any symptoms or signs of active virus, according to findings presented at the 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science in Paris.

Of course, this is an extremely rare case and, as BBC notes, while there is no active virus in the child’s body, the virus has still been detected in their immune cells, and they may still need drug treatment later on.

“Further study is needed to learn how to induce long-term HIV remission in infected babies,” Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said during the conference. “However, this new case strengthens our hope that by treating HIV-infected children for a brief period beginning in infancy, we may be able to spare them the burden of lifelong therapy and the health consequences of long-term immune activation typically associated with HIV disease.”

The study’s authors also believe that factors other than early treatment could have contributed to the child’s remission, and plan to keep studying their immune system.

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