Friday, July 11th, 2014
In 2012, The New England Journal of Medicine published an article about a child known as “Mississippi Baby” who was reportedly cured of HIV. Unfortunately, more than two years later, doctors have discovered the nearly 4-year-old now has detectable levels of the infection again, according to USA Today.
Researchers were cautiously optimistic that this case would provide information that could help babies born with the virus, mostly in developing countries. More from USA Today:
“Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child’s care and the HIV/AIDS research community,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases, at the briefing.
The development “reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body,” Fauci said in a statement. “The NIH remains committed to moving forward with research on a cure for HIV infection.”
The girl is now back on anti-retroviral treatment after being taken off two years ago and will remain mostly for the duration of her life.
“Mississippi Baby” was born with the infection. Her mother did not receive any prenatal care, and when she went to the hospital to deliver, it was too late for the doctors to give Baby treatment before delivery. The day after she was born, doctors began administering medications. Mother and baby routinely received treatment for the next 18 months, but then they disappeared. Doctors feared the worst when they returned five months later, but instead Baby appeared to be HIV-free.
Fauci says that doctors had hoped that giving anti-retroviral drugs so early prevented the AIDS virus from hiding in her white blood cells, which can serve as “reservoirs” of infection. These reservoirs of hidden cells can cause the disease to come back if patients stop their medications.
Fauci said last year that the child’s case offered support to something scientists have long believed: that a cure is possible “if you can get somebody treated before the reservoir of virus forms in the body, and before the immune system has been damaged by months or years of viral replication.”
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Image: Female hands holding red AIDS awareness ribbon via Shutterstock
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Child Health, Must Read, New Research
Thursday, March 6th, 2014
A baby girl born in Los Angeles with the HIV virus may soon become the second newborn to have the infection put into remission and, hopefully, cure with a new type of very early treatment. Last year, it was reported that a 3-year-old Mississippi girl had remained in remission 18 months after going off her medication for HIV. Though doctors are hesitant to use the word “cure,” they called that a case of “clear remission.” More from the Detroit News on the Associated Press:
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A host of sophisticated tests at multiple times suggest the LA baby has completely cleared the virus, said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a Johns Hopkins University physician who led the testing. The baby’s signs are different from what doctors see in patients whose infections are merely suppressed by successful treatment, she said.
“We don’t know if the baby is in remission … but it looks like that,” said Dr. Yvonne Bryson, an infectious disease specialist at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA who consulted on the girl’s care.
Doctors are cautious about suggesting she has been cured, “but that’s obviously our hope,” Bryson said.
Most HIV-infected moms in the U.S. get AIDS medicines during pregnancy, which greatly cuts the chances they will pass the virus to their babies. The Mississippi baby’s mom received no prenatal care and her HIV was discovered during labor. So doctors knew that infant was at high risk and started her on treatment 30 hours after birth, even before tests could determine whether she was infected.
The LA baby was born at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, and “we knew this mother from a previous pregnancy” and that she was not taking her HIV medicines, said Dr. Audra Deveikis, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the hospital.
The mom was given AIDS drugs during labor to try to prevent transmission of the virus, and Deveikis started the baby on them a few hours after birth. Tests later confirmed she had been infected, but does not appear to be now, nearly a year later.
The baby is continuing treatment, is in foster care “and looking very healthy,” Bryson said.
Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
A decade ago, 60 percent of American college students used condoms when having sex, but that number has fallen since. This discouraging news comes at the same time as reports of rising rates of sexually-transmitted diseases, with half of new STD diagnoses coming from young people. More from Time.com:
A recent study released by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada found that nearly 50% of sexually active college students aren’t using condoms. Other reports have foundthat while teenagers are likely to use a condom the first time they have sex, their behavior becomes inconsistent after that.
Health officials from Oregon to Georgia are ringing alarm bells about rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases, worried that kids aren’t getting the message. Sex education is more robust than it was for previous generations, but a 2012 Guttmacher Institute report revealed that while nearly 90% of high schools are teaching students about abstinence and STDs, fewer than 60% are providing lessons about contraception methods.
The CDC estimates that half of new STD infections occur among young people. Americans ages 15 to 24 contract chlamydia and gonorrhea at four times the rate of the general population, and those in their early 20s have the highest reported cases of syphilis and HIV. Young men and women are more likely than older people to report having no sex in the past year, yet those who are having sex are more likely to have multiple partners, which increases the risk of STDs.
“We need to do better as a nation,” says Laura Kann, an expert in youth risk behaviors at the CDC. “Far too many kids in this country continue to be infected with HIV and continue to be at risk.”
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged high schools to make condoms available to students, citing STDs as a main concern.
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Education, New Research, Parenting News, Trends
Friday, October 25th, 2013
A 3-year-old Mississippi girl who was born with the AIDS virus after contracting HIV in utero remains in remission even after stopping AIDS medications 18 months ago, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report stops short of claiming the girl is “cured” of the disease, but does refer to the situation as a medical first, and a “clear remission.” More from The Associated Press:
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“We want to be very cautious here. We’re calling it remission because we’d like to observe the child for a longer time and be absolutely sure there’s no rebound,” said Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, a University of Massachusetts AIDS expert involved in the baby’s care.
The government’s top AIDS scientist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed.
“At minimum, the baby is in a clear remission. It is possible that the baby has actually been cured. We don’t have a definition for cure as we do for certain cancers, where after five years or so you can be relatively certain the person is not going to go and relapse,” he said. A scientist at his institute did sophisticated tests that showed no active virus in the child.
A government-sponsored international study starting in January aims to test early treatment in babies born with HIV to see if the results in this case can be reproduced.
Most HIV-infected moms in the U.S. get AIDS medicines during pregnancy, which greatly cuts the chances they will pass the virus to their babies. But the Mississippi mom got no prenatal care and her HIV was discovered during labor. Doctors considered the baby to be at such high risk that they started the child on three powerful medicines 30 hours after birth, rather than waiting for a test to confirm infection as is usually done.
Within a month, the baby’s virus fell to undetectable levels. She remained on treatment until she was 18 months old when doctors lost contact with her. Ten months later when she returned, they could find no sign of infection even though the mom had stopped giving the child AIDS medicines.
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Circumcision may lower the risk of a boy becoming infected with HIV because of changes in bacteria that live around the circumcision site on the penis, a new study published in the journal mBio has found. The new finding builds on previous research that had associated circumcision with lower HIV, but had not identified a major cause for the association. More on the new study from CNN.com:
Relying on the latest technology that make sequencing the genes of organisms faster and more accessible, Lance Price of the Translational Genomics Research institute (TGen) and his colleagues conducted a detailed genetic analysis of the microbial inhabitants of the penis among a group of Ugandan men who provided samples before circumcision and again a year later.
While the men showed similar communities of microbes before the operation, 12 months later, the circumcised men harbored dramatically fewer bacteria that survive in low oxygen conditions. They also had 81% less bacteria overall compared to the uncircumcised men, and that could have a dramatic effect on the men’s ability to fight off infections like HIV, says Price.
Previous studies showed that circumcised men lowered their risk of transmitting HIV by as much as 50%, making the operation an important tool in preventing infection with the virus.
Why? A high burden of bacteria could disrupt the ability of specialized immune cells known as Langerhans cells to activate immune defenses.
Image: Newborn boy, via Shutterstock
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