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Baby HIV: Long Beach baby born with AIDS virus may be 2nd to be cured

A Long Beach baby is the second known HIV-infected infant who might be potentially cured by an early treatment.
March 5, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A local baby has become the center of international attention. She's the second known HIV-infected infant who might be potentially cured. Researchers from Miller Children's Hospital Long Beach and Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA are in Boston presenting their findings at a major medical meeting.

Doctors at Miller Children's Hospital treated the newborn with high doses of three widely-used AIDS medications.

Her birth last April occurred a month after the world learned of a Mississippi baby whose own infection was reversed by similar, early treatment. Local infectious disease specialists decided to follow that example and started the infant on anti-viral therapy four hours after birth.

"Right after drawing the first blood sample, we started the baby on three medications because the baby was at high risk," said Dr. Audra Deveikis, who is presenting the case in Boston.

Nearly a year later, the child is still on AIDS medications and shows no sign of the disease. CDC officials characterize the baby as being "functionally" cured.

The Mississippi child, now 3 1/2 years old, seems HIV-free despite having no treatment for about two years. At the time, her doctors were astounded and couldn't believe they couldn't find traces of HIV.

"My first thought was to panic. I thought, 'Oh my goodness, I have been treating a child who was not actually infected,'" said Dr. Hannah Gay of the University of Mississippi.

In both cases, the mothers were not taking AIDS medication during pregnancy, which greatly cuts the chances of transmission.

Doctors say the Long Beach baby is continuing treatment while in foster care and appears to be very healthy. At this point, researchers aren't sure when they'll discontinue the treatment, but know it won't be for a while.

"We will not know whether this is a cure until we stop the therapy, which we're not going to do for a long time," Deveikis said.

Plans are underway to begin a new federally funded study to try this treatment on about 60 babies born with HIV worldwide. In the meantime, researchers say using this therapy on HIV infected newborns is something doctors should consider.


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