Published: Wed, July 26, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

HIV Patient Maintains Low Viral Load Despite No Antiretroviral Drug

HIV Patient Maintains Low Viral Load Despite No Antiretroviral Drug

Each of the studies highlighted in a conference this week "takes us one step closer to the end of HIV", says Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International AIDS Society and director of South Africa's Desmond Tutu HIV Centre.

A child in South Africa, who was thought to have been infected at birth, has been shown to now be free of symptoms of the virus some eight and a half years after treatment, reigniting confidence that rare cases such as these hold clues that can lead to the creation of a vaccine for the decades-long epidemic.

Daily oral pills are now the only option available to HIV patients, and those who forget their medication run the risk of the virus rebounding to make them ill, or developing a resistance to the drugs they were using. Namely, they offered details on the status of a child born with HIV which, after being treated as an infant, is still in remission even nearly nine years later.

From the age of 2 months, this girl received antiretroviral treatments meant to prevent the development of the AIDS virus.

"To our knowledge, this was the first reported case of sustained control of HIV in a child enrolled in a randomized trial of ART interruption following treatment early in infancy".

Still, the mere fact that something like this is possible is a cause for hope.

It's also likely that the South African child has other, innate factors that contributed to that person's HIV remission, the researchers said.

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Research by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsored the study, has previously found that early treatment boosts children's survival rates.

Still, the child is not cured of HIV. However, in July 2014, they announced the virus had re-emerged. The first of them will stop the treatment later this year, and then we will see if the immune system manages to keep the virus at bay. When they returned and the baby was tested after a a year without drugs, she had undetectable levels of HIV virus and doctors thought she may have been cured.

It's not a healing, considering the HIV virus is still present, but it is so weak that it can not be multiplied or transmitted to another person even in the absence of a treatment.

The other two children who have had similar successful outcomes were in France and Mississippi. Aside from a reservoir of virus integrated into a tiny proportion of immune cells, researchers found no evidence of HIV, and even that hidden cache was harmless, unable to reproduce.

A total of 27 injecting drug users was also recorded as transmitting HIV; and three cases of mother-to-child transmission.

The child from MS was given treatment just a day after they were born and HIV remained undetectable until 27 months afterwards.

Last week, the United Nations said more than half of all people with the HIV virus have access to treatment but advocates remain concerned Trump's proposed budget cuts from the biggest donor nation, which is said to reduce financial aid to global HIV programs by $1 billion, CGTN America reported.

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