Speculation that a panacea for HIV is on the horizon has been raised by a report issued last month by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Washington. According to the NIH, a toddler was “functionally” cured of HIV/AIDS due to the repeated and long-term use of antiretroviral therapies.
According to a comprehensive study and subsequent media release by the NIH in early March, an infant who was born two years ago to an HIV-positive mother in Mississippi has maintained an undetectable viral load after being taken off HIV medications for 10 months. In an abbreviated breakdown of the study, the child was treated with an HIV/AIDS drug cocktail of lamivudine, nevirapine and zidovudine for several months. The child was taken off the antiretroviral meds for less than a year and maintained an undetectable viral load, making the baby “functionally cured” of HIV/AIDS.
The findings were presented last month by two HIV/AIDS pediatricians at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta. The study, while not conclusive, has already had a global impact on science and the current and future treatment of HIV/AIDS.
“Despite the fact that research has given us the tools to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, many infants are still born infected,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. The organization is actively involved in HIV/AIDS research.
In a media statement highlighting the study, Fauci added, “With this case, it appears we may not only have a positive outcome for this particular child, but a promising lead for additional research toward curing other children.”
Despite the promising news, thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS are skeptical and are raising unanswered questions. One blogger posted, “I have missed over a month of meds and my viral load remains undetectable and my T-cells are above 300. Does this mean I’m cured?”
Another blogger dismissed the study and said, “A sterilizing cure is when HIV is 100 percent removed from the body [and not just at an undetectable level].”
To view the complete study, visit www.niaid.nih.gov.