Mississippi child points HIV researchers in new direction

April 25, 2013 by Ryan Rivet
Mississippi child points HIV researchers in new direction
“This case is teaching us more about the biology of HIV,” says Dr. Russell Van Dyke, professor and chief of the section of pediatric infectious diseases. Credit: Paula Burch-Celentano

(Medical Xpress)—Earlier this year, doctors at an infectious disease conference announced that a baby in rural Mississippi born with HIV had been "functionally cured" of the infection after receiving aggressive treatment immediately after birth. With such a result deemed to be virtually impossible only a few years ago, it's a development Tulane infectious disease expert Dr. Russell Van Dyke calls "extremely gratifying."

"It's nice to have an example like this because it gives us the basis for asking the right questions going forward," says Van Dyke, professor and chief of the section of pediatric at the Tulane School of Medicine.

The "right questions," according to Van Dyke, revolve around the timeline of the infection and explore how early detection and treatment allow for the best scenario to stop a "long-term reservoir" of the virus from establishing in patients.

"This case is teaching us something about when actually occurs," Van Dyke says. "If we can identify the infection early enough and treat it at that point, we might be able to interrupt the normal course of infection."

Van Dyke calls the circumstances in the Mississippi case "unusual." Although the baby had for 18 months, the mother stopped the therapy for five months. When the mother returned, doctors expected the amount of HIV in the baby's system to be elevated. Instead, they found none.

And while he is cautiously optimistic about this development, Van Dyke points out that this case is the exception right now as opposed to the rule. He adds that interrupting treatment could have not worth the risk and that studies are currently planned to investigate this case further.

"We don't want the message getting out to parents that kids who have been treated from a young age may be cured, and they can stop the medicine. That would be the big mistake. That would be a problem."

Explore further: Kids born with HIV growing up well

Related Stories

Kids born with HIV growing up well

April 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Once facing an almost certain death sentence, most children born with HIV are now faring well into adolescence and adulthood, according to a newly published study co-authored by Tulane infectious diseases ...

Researchers describe first 'functional HIV cure' in an infant

March 3, 2013

A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins Children's Center, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the University of Massachusetts Medical School describe the first case of a so-called "functional cure" in an HIV-infected ...

Recommended for you

Videos reveal how HIV spreads in real time

October 2, 2015

How retroviruses like HIV spread in their hosts had been unknown—until a Yale team devised a way to watch it actually happen in a living organism. The elaborate and sometimes surprising steps the virus takes to reach and ...

Researchers find proteins that shut down HIV-1

September 30, 2015

A pair of studies by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the University of Trento in Italy, and the University of Geneva in Switzerland, point to a promising new anti-retroviral strategy for combating ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.