News / Health

HIV Cure Raises Hope

HIV Cure Raises Hopei
X
March 05, 2013 1:59 AM
When AIDS was first identified in the 1980s, it was considered a death sentence. The advent of powerful triple-drug therapy transformed it into a chronic disease. Now, researchers say a child may have been cured of HIV infection Experts are cautious about making too much of a single case. But the news has them talking with unprecedented optimism that if caught early, at least some patients could be saved from a lifetime of infection. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
When AIDS was first identified in the 1980s, it was considered a death sentence.  The advent of powerful triple-drug therapy transformed it into a chronic disease.  Now, researchers say a child may have been cured of HIV infection  Experts are cautious about making too much of a single case.  But the news has them talking with unprecedented optimism that if caught early, at least some patients could be saved from a lifetime of infection. 

Tim Brown is one of only two people ever to be considered cured of HIV infection.  But it was not easy.  He also had leukemia.  A bone marrow transplant from a donor with a rare mutation cured his HIV.

“The first transplant went well," said Brown. "But the second one was pretty horrible.  And I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy.”

The latest case, at the University of Mississippi, was different.  A baby born to an untreated HIV-positive mother was given a combination of anti-AIDS drugs within hours of birth.  The patient has not been identified.

The therapy itself was not unusual, says Dr. Paul Volberding of the University of California at San Francisco. 

“The treatment was really just regular antiretroviral therapy, HIV drugs," said Volberding. "So in contrast to the first reported cure, this is one that has a lot broader potential implications.”

That means that the early and aggressive treatment the child received may rid the body of the virus before it can take hold.  If the results hold up to scrutiny, it’s significant, says Harvard School of Public Health professor Richard Marlink.

“It’s a big deal to show that, if we really hit the virus hard right at birth, perhaps, for those babies that might be getting infected at that early time in their life, we may be able to eliminate the virus from their system," said Marlink.

The impact could be especially great in sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the roughly 300,000 children born with HIV each year reside.

Marlink says it could save lives, as well as eliminate the burden of lifelong therapy.

“We wouldn’t have to be treating them the rest of their life," he said. "They wouldn’t have the toxicity the rest of their life and the cost the rest of their life of being on treatment.”

Researchers today are talking not just about treating but curing HIV infection.  It’s a remarkable turn of events for veterans of the epidemic.

“Unbelievable a few years ago," said Volberding. "And we wouldn’t have done it with any sense of optimism at all.  And I think now, we’re still pretty realistic about it.  We know it’s not around the corner, but there’s at least a critical mass, we hope, of research now being conducted.”

They hope that research will pay off with cures for adults with HIV as well as children.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid