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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid