At an AIDS conference in Boston on Wednesday, scientists revealed that an aggressive treatment procedure begun just hours after birth had cleared a newborn of HIV. The announcement marks the second time that such a procedure has eliminated HIV.
Four hours after the child was born in Long Beach, California, doctors started them on aggressive doses of AZT, 3TC and nevirapine. The virus was undetectable after 11 days of treatment. The child is not, technically, cured of the disease, however:
It is incorrect to describe the baby as “cured” or even as “in remission” because she is still on the drugs, Dr. Persaud said. But because the most sensitive blood tests can find no virus capable of replicating, she describes the baby as “having sero-reverted to H.I.V.-negative.”
Dr. Audra Deveikis of Miller's Children Hospital, where the baby was born, said that they would continue to treat them with drugs for at least two years. "The decision of when to stop therapy is not something we're going to take lightly," Deveikis said. "We're going to continue for at least two years, or longer, depending on the information we get from these future studies." An upcoming clinical trial for 60 babies will expand on the research.
Analogous treatment was first revealed last year to have worked in a similar case. Researchers said that there might be as many as eight other cases of the treatment’s success.