Child “Functionally Cured” of HIV for Nine Years

The South African child is the third case of remission without detectable levels of the disease.

In a record case, a child born with HIV has been functionally cured after nine years of no detection of HIV. The South African child has not received treatment since 2007 when they were randomly selected as trail for 40 weeks of antiretroviral drugs with 143 other babies infected with the disease.

Since the trial, the virus became undetectable in the child’s bloodstream and has remained that way ever since. The results were revealed at the International Aids Society Conference in Pairs. The finding has been compared to that of the “Mississippi Baby”  who was treated in 2010 for HIV. The disease remained undetectable until 2014 when the Virus re-surfaced.

Keeping this in mind researchers are quick not to make assumptions or raise hopes. They are not suggesting the child has been fully cured of the hideous virus, which is evident from the tiny amount of the virus they've detected within some cells of the immune system. What they are suggesting is the child has been “functionally cured” which essentially means, the chid still has the virus but is not showing any symptoms associated with HIV. Anthony S Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explained:

“...This new case strengthens our hope that by treating HIV-infected children for a brief period beginning in infancy, we may be able to spare them the burden of lifelong therapy and the health consequences of long-term immune activation typically associated with HIV disease.”

It is still a mystery as to why these children are having this reaction to the virus, and what the treatment did for their immune system. Interestingly here are many cases among sex workers where the infected is naturally immune to the disease. And despite constant exposure have not been infected.

This new case does not share the same strain of immunity that these immune sex workers showed, instead may be a case of a new form of immunity occurring. By studying the child further, they wish to understand more about how the body can seemingly control the virus. Potentially leading to a cure.

Header: Shutterstock

Information cited: NIH press release

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