A child part of clinical trials for babies infected with the HIV virus has surprised researchers by being in remission after only a year of treatment followed by eight and a half years of drug-free living.
The child, whose identity has not been disclosed, was part of a programme with links to the International Aids Society (IAS) and the United Nations HIV/AIDS agency.
HIV-positive babies were treated in their first few weeks of life and then placed on antiretroviral (ARV) medicines on a stop-start basis while observing the level of control exerted on the virus.
Yet, this is not a cure.
Experts have urged the media and public to understand that this development will not open an easy path to establishing a tried and tested cure.
“It’s a case that raises more questions than it necessarily answers”, explained Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the IAS.
The HIV virus normally demands an extended treatment process with most people so far having to take ARVs for the remainder of their lives. The virus, in fact, tends to spread quickly throughout the body as soon as the treatment is terminated.
Therefore, emphasising the rarity of this phenomenon.
“To our knowledge, this is the first case of sustained virological contrl from a randomised trial of ARV”, explained the researchers responsible for this finding.
The child’s progression will now be closely observed in the hope that no symptoms of the virus emerge.