There seems to be a lot happening in the
world of HIV and I wanted to take a minute to share this with you. My usual
online navigation rarely brings me anything of interest, but the latest
information on the baby who was cured
from HIV was worth a double take.
Apparently in Mississippi a baby was born
to an HIV positive mother who only found out about her status due to a rapid HIV
test while she was in labor. The baby received a stronger than normal dose of
HIV medications as the mother was not on any HIV meds throughout the pregnancy.
Now the child is two years old and appears to be ‘functionally’ cured of HIV.
Functionally cured? What does this even mean? If a person is functionally cured
it means that the virus is suppressed, without the use of ongoing medications
and treatments. Some of you may remember the story of the Berlin patient, TimothyRay Brown,who received
a bone marrow transplant from a donor with genetic immunitiy to HIV(known as the Delta 32 mutation). As a result he is ‘cured’ from HIV and any segments of the
virus still in his system are dead. Moving back to the story of the baby… There
are a lot of questions still unanswered when it comes to this case.
Does the fact that the baby was born
prematurely have an effect on HIV and treatment?
What, if any correlation is there due
to the fact the mother was not on medication?
Is this a viable cure for HIV in
How can this be translated into a
potential cure for people already living with HIV for several years?
Isn’t this just the same as post-exposure
Were/was the parent(s) provided with
proper informed consent when it came to administering a combination therapy to
What services (medical and financial)
are in place to monitor the health of the child and family?
Is this really the first time that a
combination therapy has been administered to a newborn? What happened in the
other attempts to suppress the virus of newborns?
Why did the child stop receiving
What other factors have been
influencing the decision making of the parent(s)? Poverty, stigma, lack of
accessible health care, rural setting, etc.
There are still several people who
are skeptical when it comes to this ‘latest’ breakthrough. For some people,
there is nothing new about this treatment and it does not appear that it will
create a cure as quickly as we would like. Additionally, there are concerns
about the portrayal of the mother in the media, as she has been blamed for not
taking the steps to ensure that proper prenatal care was in place. Let’s not
forget that the USA does not have the same standard of medical care that we
have in Canada, and that there may be several factors which have not been
released to the media. Before we are quick to blame the mother, it is important
to look at the environment that an individual is living in. What is exciting is
that HIV and the possibility of a cure are once again in the media’s spotlight.
This can lead to changes in policy and opportunities for future education and
discussion around HIV/AIDS. Sounds like this
will be something to keep an eye out for in the world of HIV. Stay tuned to our
Facebook page for all the
latest news on HIV and updates on the ‘functionally cured’ baby.
Since 1983, AIDS Calgary has helped people learn about, prevent and live with HIV/AIDS. To learn more about AIDS Calgary, visit www.aidscalgary.org
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