News Brief: South African Child “Virtually” Cured of HIV

by Aaron Shepard
in News
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News Brief South African Child “Virtually” Cured of HIV

News Brief South African Child “Virtually” Cured of HIV

News Brief:  South African Child “Virtually” Cured of HIV

A nine-year-old child living in South Africa has been “virtually cured” of HIV, becoming the third child in the world to officially be in remission.  The child, who has not yet been identified, was given treatment as soon as he/she was born as he/she was infected with the virus at birth.  Doctors in the country have said that since that initial treatment the child has not needed any other medical attention for the virus in the past eight and a half years.

Although HIV cannot be detected in the child’s body, it has been detected in their immune cells.  This means that HIV is lying dormant and while they do not need treatment now it may be required in the future. 

The child may provide vital information for a breakthrough on learning how HIV can be cured.

He/she was given antiretroviral treatment for 40 weeks after being found to have high levels of HIV in his/her blood shortly after being born in 2007.  It is the third known time that a child has been “cured” of HIV by using the therapy.

Dr Avy Violari, the head of pediatric research at the Perinal HIV Research Unit in Johannesburg, said, “We don’t believe that antiretroviral therapy alone can lead to remission.  We don’t really know what’s the reason why this child has achieved remission – we believe it’s either genetic or immune system-related.”

The family of the child, however, is “really delighted” at the outcome.

The other two children who have had similar successful outcomes were in France and Mississippi.  The child from Mississippi was given treatment just a day after they were born and HIV remained undetectable until 27 months afterwards.  While the second child, living in France, has lived 11 years without needing further treatment.