Three babies who were given antiretroviral drugs only a few hours after birth are now considered HIV-free.
The Canadian infants, born to HIV-positive mothers, were all given high doses of three antiretroviral drugs hours after birth. A fourth baby injected with the same treatment was discovered to have only a “very low level” of the virus.
The findings are a major breakthrough in the fight against AIDS, with scientists hoping it could lead to a cure if treatment is received early enough.
These cases follow the success of the Mississippi Baby, who is being hailed as the first confirmed case of a baby being cured of HIV. The baby, born prematurely in Mississippi in 2010, was cleared of any infection by 2013.
The Mississippi baby’s mother was only discovered to be HIV-positive during labor and missed out on a normal treatment to prevent her passing the virus on to her child.
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health wrote in the Washington Post that the baby was consequently given aggressive anti-HIV treatment when she was 30 hours old.
Several days later, highly sensitive testing confirmed that the infant had been infected while in the womb. The baby remained on anti-HIV therapy for 18 months. The child, now three, continues to show no evidence of infection and remains off anti-HIV medicines, raising hope that a cure has been achieved.
The four Canadian babies are still taking their treatments. Doctors are not sure when they should stop administering the drugs.
Dr. Ari Bitnun of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto warned it was too early to know if his team’s patients could be considered as cured, according to Herald Sun.
Fauci reported in the Washington Post that the National Institutes of Health plan to launch a carefully monitored clinical trial in 12 countries, including the United States. The study aims to replicate the results of the Mississippi Baby case in other infants exposed to HIV in the womb.