South Africa: Cure for HIV

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Scribe:  Lucy Osbourne



Most people have to take a bevy of drugs to prevent the HIV virus from destroying the immune system and creating what is considered full blown AIDs. 

A 9-year-old child is defying the odds.   The child whose identity has been withheld for privacy reasons was given a mixture of drugs shortly after birth and for eight-and-a-half years have not shown any signs or symptoms of the active virus. 

The child caught the infection from their mother around the time of birth in 2007 according to reports.  Both the mother and the child had very high levels of HIV in the blood.    The solution called antiretroviral therapy was at the time not standard practice was given as part of a clinical trial.  Levels dropped and the virus became undetectable – treatment was stopped after forty weeks.

The child is an anomaly, the child is the only person who was given the antiretroviral therapy and not have the virus return. 

Other attempts include the “Mississippi Baby” who was tried on the therapy within 30 hours of birth and went 27 months without treatment before HIV re-emerged in her blood. 

Specialist in South Africa do not believe the antiretroviral therapy alone can lead to remission and point to either genetic or immune related combinations with the therapy.  And warn while no active HIV is in the child’s body, the virus has been detected in the immune cells a condition called HIV latent. 

The Latent version can remain dormant for long periods of time; the child could still need drug treatment in the future.   The medical world is excited and are referring to the revelation as a virtual cure.  

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