HIV di­ag­nosed child off ARVs for more than 8 years

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - AMY GREEN

A NINE-YEAR-OLD South African child, who was di­ag­nosed with HIV at one month old, has been con­trol­ling the virus with­out treat­ment for the past eight-and-a-half years.

This was an­nounced yes­ter­day at the 9th In­ter­na­tional AIDS So­ci­ety Con­fer­ence on HIV Sci­ence be­ing held in Paris this week.

The child was given HIV treat­ment for 40 weeks af­ter di­ag­no­sis but was taken off an­tiretro­vi­rals (ARVs) as part of a study to see how long the virus would take to rebound and be­gin repli­cat­ing again.

Usu­ally, once a pa­tient stops ARVs, the virus re­bounds in a mat­ter of weeks. Re­searchers said they were mon­i­tor­ing the child to find clues which will bring the world closer to de­vel­op­ing a cure for HIV.

South African re­searcher, and co-lead au­thor for the trial in which the child was dis­cov­ered, Dr Avy Vi­o­lari said there “is still a lot more work to be done to un­der­stand” ex­actly how this child has man­aged to con­trol the virus with­out the help of drugs.

“But we don’t be­lieve (40 weeks of early treat­ment with ARVs alone) led to re­mis­sion,” she said.

The child’s gen­der and home town has not been re­leased to pro­tect his/her pri­vacy.

The study, called the Cher trial, took place be­tween 2005 and 2011 in Soweto and Cape Town to in­ves­ti­gate the op­ti­mal time for HIV pos­i­tive in­fants to start HIV treat­ment and whether treat­ment could be safely in­ter­rupted.

Although there have been rare re­ports of pa­tients con­trol­ling the virus with­out treat­ment in other parts of the world, this is the first such case in Africa.

The “Mis­sis­sippi Baby”, born in 2010 in the US, was started on treat­ment within two days of birth, stopped ther­apy at 18 months of age, and con­trolled the virus for over two years be­fore the virus re­bounded in her blood.

There have also been re­ports of a French teenager who has con­trolled the virus with­out drug ther­apy for more than 11 years.

“There is prob­a­bly a com­plex set of mech­a­nisms keep­ing the virus from re­bound­ing and one of the ex­cit­ing chal­lenges we have is to try to fig­ure out what they are,” Dr An­thony Fauci, from the US’ Na­tional In­sti­tute of Health, told Health-e News.

“Is it an im­mune re­sponse that one or more, but not ev­ery­body, pro­duces when they get ex­posed to the virus? Is it some­thing spe­cific about the virus? Is it that when you treat some­one early on, you elim­i­nate most of the repli­ca­tion-com­pe­tent virus and what’s left is a virus that’s not par­tic­u­larly com­pe­tent at repli­cat­ing? Does it have to do with the size of the virus reser­voir? Is it none of the above or all of the above?”

Vi­o­lari said the child’s fam­ily is “de­lighted” that he/ she has sup­pressed the virus and shows no signs of need­ing ARVs for the mo­ment.

“Peo­ple are look­ing at those spe­cial in­di­vid­u­als called elite con­trollers or post-treat­ment con­trollers, like this child, and I be­lieve that’s where the an­swer is go­ing to come from – from those very spe­cial in­di­vid­u­als.” – Health-e News

‘There is still a lot more work to be done’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.