This is the best news yet of the century and I can say has the potential to become the best news of the century even if 88 years are still to go. A two-and-half year old baby has been cured of HIV!
AIDS kills millions every year. HIV infects millions new every year. The largest number of HIV/AIDS infected is in the poorer countries and funding the HIV/AIDS treatment including the R&D has become a big bone of contention and spans a body of discussion on the political motivations and obstructions on funding to find the cure of the humanity’s most deadly enemy yet.
As reported, a Mississippi baby, who was HIV infected from birth, has been found HIV-infection free in fresh round of medical checkup. As a CNN report said it happened quite easily. Her antiretroviral medication was stopped when she was 15 months old. She was found infection free when she was taken for diagnosis at her second birthday. Scientists believe it could have been due to the high-dose of the combination of three antiretroviral medicines given to the baby within 30 hours of birth.
It is only second claim of HIV cure and first in case of a child. Further studies into the case would certainly be beneficial to the countless babies born with the virus in the poorer countries where the epidemic continues to be spreading its tentacles.
The baby’s case may be not be groundbreaking immediately for millions of HIV/AIDS affected lives, as the doctors say it is ‘grossly unique’, but such cases are the confidence boosters, and the subsequent R&D would certainly open new doors to understand and rapidly develop a possible cure for the virus.
This is the second case after the ‘Berlin Patient’ Timothy Ray Brown declared HIV-free and the next leap of faith to work even more intensely to find the solution to subdue the killer that has been taking lives for the past 30 years.
Timothy was diagnosed in 1995. In 2007, while undergoing chemotherapy for Leukemia, he was given a stem cell transplant. The donor in this case was some someone who had inherited a rare gene mutation resistant to the HIV virus. Since then, his HIV infection level has been below the detection level.
There were high costs involved in Timothy’s case but the baby’s cure has come with normal course of antiretroviral medicines. There might be some unique medical conditions leading to the cure in both the cases as it is being said. But what matters is the tag ‘it has been cured’ even if ‘functionally’, i.e., they are now off the antiretroviral medicine regime.
Since Timothy’s case in 2007, there have been other claims of cure and advances in the medical R&D and the humanity now has the second validated claim just after 5 years.
It indeed can be a big stimulus for the scientists and the governments to give the required push to find a solution to the lethal weapon that is killing mankind, not just physiologically but sociologically as well.
The ‘Berlin Patient’ is not a patient anymore. The miracle Mississippi baby is not HIV-infected anymore. They are ‘functionally cured’ of the HIV infection.
Given the severity and the medical complexities into the dimensions of the word ‘cured’ in these two cases, it cannot be said when the journey would see the transition, from a ‘functional cure’ (as in these two cases) to the ‘cure’ leading to the complete eradication of the virus, but these two cases say the journey is on its way.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey
Featured Image Courtesy: WHO