News / Health

Researchers to Test Promising Therapy for HIV-infected Newborns

FILE - HIV tests show negative and positive results.
FILE - HIV tests show negative and positive results.
Jessica Berman
U.S. officials have announced the funding of an international medical trial to see whether aggressively treating HIV-infected newborns with anti-retroviral drugs cures them.  The news follows the announcement this week that a year-old infant in California, born with the AIDS virus, shows no signs of infection after aggressive antiretroviral therapy. 

There are now two documented cases in the United States of newborns who contracted HIV in the womb going into remission following the immediate start of aggressive anti-retroviral therapy.

In both instances, the HIV-positive mothers were not in therapy at the time of delivery.

In the case of the so-called Mississippi baby, reported a year ago, doctors began giving the infant a three-drug combination of anti-AIDS drugs 30 hours after birth.  Sensitive tests showed the virus had reached undetectable levels within a month.

The baby took the drugs for a year and a half, until doctors lost track of her.  When the infant resurfaced, she had not been on therapy for 10 months but tests continued to show no sign of the virus.  Doctors say the infant, who has not taken any HIV medications now for two years, remains healthy.

In the latest case, physicians in Long Beach, California, began a cocktail of HIV drugs within four hours after birth. Almost a year later, they could detect no virus in the infant.

“Now that doesn’t mean the baby is cured or that the virus is not there, but it’s strongly suggestive of that," explained Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading researcher in the fight against AIDS. "They have not discontinued therapy in the baby.  So, they have not proven that the baby is cured as was the case with the Mississippi baby," he added.

Fauci said a large international trial will get underway in about a month to see whether HIV-infected newborns can be cured with this sort of early, aggressive treatment. “So hopefully we’ll get the answer to the question of whether this is an applicable, reproducible phenomenon,” he said.

Fauci said newborns who become infected with HIV in utero will begin antiretroviral therapy within 48 hours of birth.  They will be followed to see if the virus disappears and, in select cases, some infants may eventually be weaned from drugs.

He notes that mother to child transmission of the AIDS virus is rare in United States.  Most of the estimated 250,000 babies born infected to HIV-positive mothers every year live in developing countries, where the first time many untreated women show up to a clinic is to deliver their babies.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs