HIV in Children
Another mysterious and miraculous medical case was observed recently in South Africa. A child of almost nine years old from South Africa was found to be infected with HIV since birth, but it has spent the most of its life without any treatment. This was recorded to be the third case globally after the first one- Mississippi Baby and the second one-French Teenager. The child, whose identity is not disclosed, was off the drugs for about eight-and-a-half years without showing any symptoms or signs of the active virus. Scientists said that, it is one of the rarest cases as most HIV infected people require treatment every single day to prevent the virus from destroying the immune system and causing Aids.
The head of pediatric clinical trials at the Perinatal HIV Research Unit at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, Dr. Avy Violari, treated the child and presented the reports and study findings at the 9th International AIDS conference on HIV Science at Paris recently and said, “This is really very rare.”
Researchers have reported that this is the third case recorded so far in the global history of medical science and first time in Africa where prolonged HIV remission was observed after early treatment. This case study has opened new doors of opportunities for the medical researchers. It has added to a new but growing evidence that the early treatment of HIV in children beginning in infancy might bring the virus to a level which is undetectable and can potentially lower the necessity for life-long drug therapy.
Reports apparently said that the child had very high levels of HIV in its blood before starting treatment when it was only about nine weeks old. Medical practitioners said that with proper treatment, the levels of the virus were observed to drop down to a point where they were undetectable. The doctors stopped the antiretroviral therapy after 40 weeks of treatment and kept the child under close observation. It was then observed that the child has further maintained nearly undetectable levels of the virus. Medical experts further found that they can detect a minimal amount of virus in a tiny portion of immune cells, though the evidence of HIV infection was not found and the child has not shown any signs of the disease.
Violary commented on the case study and said, “We don’t believe that antiretroviral therapy alone can lead to remission.” She further added, “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.”
Medical scientists have informed that understanding this case and getting a clear idea about how the child is protected could lead to new drugs or vaccine to stop HIV. Violari further added that while studying these similar cases, they can hope to understand how one can stop treatment and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, “Further study is needed to learn how to induce long-term HIV remission in infected babies.”
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