What's the Latest Development?
Early this week, Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins University announced to the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta, Georgia, that a patient under her care had been cured of HIV infection. The essential facts of the case are that the patient was born infected with HIV and was immediately treated with anti-retroviral drugs for 18 months. "She was then lost track of for five months. When the child returned to doctors’ attention, they found the virus had vanished—and six months later, despite the fact that the girl is no longer taking anti-AIDS medicine, there is no sign of HIV having returned in force."
What's the Big Idea?
This new case is only the second-ever account of a human surviving an HIV infection. The first occurred when patient Timothy Brown, who was infected with the virus, underwent bone marrow transplant surgery to as part of a leukemia treatment. Brown's cure was accidental as the transplant happened to affect a crucial part of his immune system. "That is hardly a viable approach for those who do not have that disease. But if HIV infection can be cured with drugs, as Dr Persaud’s observations suggest, a whole, new line of investigation opens up."
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com