Mark Siedner: About That Baby Who Was ‘Cured’ of HIV

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baby_cured_hiv

“Treating an exposure is easier than treating an infection. The end of AIDS is likely still many years away.”

by Mark J. Siedner

A 24-hour news-cycle virus was released from its vial at the annual HIV conference in Atlanta last week with word that a child infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS had been cured. The news spread quickly through media outlets around the world.

Colleagues in Uganda, where I work as an HIV clinician and researcher, asked me a barrage of questions soon after reading about it in local newspapers: “Is there a new cure for HIV?” “Can babies be cured of HIV?” “Is this finally the end of AIDS?”

At the conference, the news of the case preceded the actual presentation of the results. The excitement surrounding this potentially game-changing breakthrough filled the main hall to capacity with more than 4,000 people who dedicate their lives to the disease. What we heard from the researchers who presented the case on March 4 was that a baby girl, born in Mississippi to a woman with HIV, was found with HIV in her blood shortly after birth. Care providers quickly started the infant on a full set of three HIV medicines (typically, only one or two are used in exposed babies to prevent infection).

The medicines were continued for 18 months, after which mother and child went missing from care. When they returned after almost five months without medicines, no evidence of active HIV infection was found in the child. The medical team performed an exhaustive array of tests to try to confirm the prior presence of HIV and its subsequent eradication, and to rule out rare forms of resistance to HIV infection.

Skeptics in the conference audience got the chance to ask a handful of questions and were given a handful of answers. Then the discussion ended, the room cleared—and the news cycle moved on.

But the word “cure” and the hope it brings have remained in the minds of many, leading to countless questions from many of the more than 30 million people infected with HIV world-wide, as well as friends, families and care providers. For now, their questions are mostly unanswered.

To understand what the word “cure” means for HIV, it is helpful to review how people become infected and why a cure has been so hard to develop. People can be exposed to HIV when they have contact with infectious bodily fluids, which can include blood products during donations (an incredibly rare event with today’s blood-screening techniques), sexual intercourse or, in the case of newborns, in utero, during birth or breast-feeding.

But exposure to HIV does not necessarily mean infection. Only a small proportion of sexual encounters between couples where one person has HIV result in transmission of the virus, and we have known for more than a decade that antiviral medicines, when given within days of exposure, can prevent infection from taking hold. This is because for infection to occur, the virus must invade immune cells and incorporate itself into the DNA, where it can remain dormant for decades.

The medicines used to treat HIV are excellent at suppressing HIV-virus replication and preventing destruction of immune cells, but the medicines are unable to eradicate the dormant, or sleeping, copies in immune cells. This is why the drugs have afforded health and life to millions of people around the world, but also why those infected must continuously take medicines to keep the virus under control.

There has been one prior cure of an HIV-infected adult, which involved a bone-marrow transplant, a procedure that is too risky and expensive to be a common cure. Today, dozens of researchers and millions of dollars in funding support a mission to locate, activate and kill cells infected by dormant virus without harming patients. Then a durable HIV cure will have been achieved. In this mission, researchers remain years from their target.

In the case of the Mississippi baby, we know she was exposed to HIV, had HIV in her blood, and that at least some cells in her blood were found with sleeping virus—though we will likely never know if those cells were from the child or maternal cells that had been transmitted during pregnancy or birth. Was the baby infected with HIV and, thus, cured?

To many of the researchers at the conference, the answer is “no.” It seems more likely that her treatment prevented her, after exposure to HIV, from being infected. The reason we give medicines to both pregnant women and their newborns is precisely to prevent HIV exposures in children from becoming established infections, an intervention that can decrease the rate of transmission from about 30% to less than 1% in optimal conditions.

So what does this mean for patients with HIV? For the hundreds of pregnant women in the U.S. and Europe, and many thousands elsewhere who are diagnosed with HIV infection at the time of delivery, it offers hope for further decreasing the likelihood of passing the virus to their children. It also offers more data to support the notion that very early treatment after HIV exposure can prevent establishment of infection in some populations. We look to future studies to corroborate these hypotheses and improve our ability to prevent HIV transmission.

But for the more than 30 million adults and children currently infected—and for the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands who are newly infected annually—last week’s news represents neither a path toward a cure nor support for discontinuing antiviral medicines. Those of us in the field of HIV care and research remain steadfast in working toward a cure, a vaccine, better-tolerated therapies, and better access to care and reproductive-health services for those infected and at risk. Now we will also be accountable for explaining the relevance of the “baby cured” news to HIV-infected individuals, likely with a careful attention to the words we choose.

Dr. Siedner is a postdoctoral fellow in the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Article source: The Wall Street Journal

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12 COMMENTS

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  2. I have been diagonise with HIV for 10yrs i was using drug to supress it not on till this great man help my friend worldtreatmentforhiv@yahoo.com i contacted him and he said i should go back for test in the next 8hrs when i went and the result came out i was hiv free. am just short of words to thank this great man but his email is worldtreatmentforhiv@yahoo.com and mine is clintonsonia@gmail.com incase you want to comfirm. for those of you with hiv and aids i want you to contact him and he will help you i promise

  3. I was been suffering hardship from HIV/AIDS since 6yrs now, and i happen to have 2 kids for my husband, and now we cannot proceed to have another kids all because of my disease and now i have do all what a human like i and my husband can do just to get my disease healed, i have went to several places to seek for help not even one person could ever help, until i melt a comment on the daily news paper that was commented by Miss Marilyn about how this powerful traditional doctor help her get cured of the disease (HIV-AIDS) ” my fellow beloved” i firstly taught having a help from a spiritual traditional healer was a wrong idea, but i think of these, will i continue to stress on these disease all day when i have someone to help me save my life?” so i gather all my faiths and put in all interest to contact him through his Email address at dr.ukpoyanspellhome@gamil.com, so after i have mailed him of helping get my disease cured, i respond to me fast as possible that i should not be afraid, that he is a truthful and powerful doctor which i firstly claimed him to be. So after all set has been done, he promise me that i will be healed but on a condition that i provide him some items and obeyed all his oracle said. I did all by accepting his oracolous fact and only to see that the following week Dr ukpoyan mail me on my mail box that my work is successfully done with his powers, i was first shocked and later arise to be the happiest woman on earth after i have concluded my final test on the hospital by my doctor that i am now HIV- Negative. My papers for check are with me and now i am happy and glad for his miraculous help and power. With these i must to everyone who might seek for any help, either for HIV cure or much more to contact him now at these following email now,Email: dr.ukpoyanspellhome@gamil.com ” sir thank you so much for your immediate cure of my disease, i must say for curing my disease, i owe you in return. Thanks and be blessed sir. His Email address is: dr.ukpoyanspellhome@gamil.com

  4. lease somebody uplift my faith on this. my mother, 52 years old was dignosed hiv positive and TB this year, and immediately started on ARV on 07/02/11 coz her cd4 count was only 15. she is not a christian, but i am and she has agreed to go to pastor chris on the night of bliss. pray with me for her healingi have heard testimonies of so many people who heve been healed from this sickness, but who have not yet been atarted on ARV. obviously with with the ARV’s the virus becomes undetectable, how am i going to knowthat she is indeed healed?you can as well reach him in his email address now at:homeofsolveingproblems@gmail.com

  5. My name is Anita, i was diagnosed with HIV in 2012, and since then my life was turn upside down I even infected my husband with the virus, until i meant a testimony from a woman about a spell caster who cured his HIV and she dropped his email which i used to I contact him and told him about my problem, he told me that i will need to do some things which i did, and after he finished every thing, he told me that me and my husband will take the medication for 2 weeks which we did and 3 days ago we went for a test and surprisingly me and my husband are now HIV negative,thanks to Dr ojuku for saving our life. And i will advice any of you who needed help about this deadly virus should contact Dr ojuku via email: ojukupelltemple@gmailmail.com i believe he can help you too, thank you.

  6. My name is Anita, i was diagnosed with HIV in 2012, and since then my life was turn upside down I even infected my husband with the virus, until i meant a testimony from a woman about a spell caster who cured his HIV and she dropped his email which i used to I contact him and told him about my problem, he told me that i will need to do some things which i did, and after he finished every thing, he told me that me and my husband will take the medication for 2 weeks which we did and 3 days ago we went for a test and surprisingly me and my husband are now HIV negative,thanks to Dr ojuku for saving our life. And i will advice any of you who needed help about this deadly virus should contact Dr ojuku via email: ojukupelltemple50@gmailmail.com i believe he can help you too, thank you.

  7. I was been suffering hardship from HIV/AIDS since 9yrs now, and i happen to have 2 kids for my husband, and now we cannot proceed to have another kids all because of my disease and now i have do all what a human like i and my husband can do just to get my disease healed, i have went to several places to seek for help not even one person could ever help, until i melt a comment on the daily news paper that was commented by Miss Ebhota.comfort about how this powerful traditional doctor help her get cured of the disease (HIV-AIDS) ” my fellow beloved” i firstly taught having a help from a spiritual traditional healer was a wrong idea, but i think of these, will i continue to stress on these disease all day when i have someone to help me save my life?” so i gather all my faiths and put in all interest to contact him through his Email address at drjuliuskelvinhivcure@gmail.com , so after i have mailed him of helping get my disease cured, i respond to me fast as possible that i should not be afraid, that he is a truthful and powerful doctor which i firstly claimed him to be. So after all set has been done, he promise me that i will be healed but on a condition that i provide him some items and obeyed all his oracle said. I did all by accepting his oracolous fact and only to see that the following week Dr julius mail me on my mail box that my work is successfully done with his powers, i was first shocked and later arise to be the happiest woman on earth after i have concluded my final test on the hospital by my doctor that i am now HIV- Negative. My papers for check are with me and now i am happy and glad for his miraculous help and power.
    With these i must to everyone who might seek for any help, either for HIV cure or much more to contact him now at these following email now,
    Email.drjuliuskelvinhivcure@gmail.co m
    ” sir thank you so much for your immediate cure of my disease, i must say for curing my disease, i owe you in return. Thanks and be blessed sir.
    His Email address is:drjuliuskelvinhivcure@gmail.co m he is waiting for you.+2348078924088

  8. Hello my name is Cassie I want to give a testimony about my HIV virus that
    was cured by a great spell caster Dr Okogbo. Since last 4 months I have
    being a HIV AID patient. I never think I live long again and am so grateful
    about him Dr.Okogbo who help me cured my HIV AIDS last 3 weeks. I was in a
    great pain so I told one of my best friends; he told me that there is a
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    email, she gave me his email, I emailed him he talked to me and he perform
    the necessary rituals and he told me that after two weeks I should go for a
    test. Which I did, when the doctor told me that am now a HIV negative I
    couldn’t believe myself I went to see another doctor the result was still
    the same, I was human on planet earth, so I emailed him and thanked him.
    Please if you are having a similar problem please visit him/contact him at ;
    drokogbospellhome@GMAIL.com ; all
    thanks to Dr Okogbo Regard…

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    message,
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    last minute of the Day ”
    Good Night.
    A bed of clouds for U to sleep,
    Diamond stars as ur bed side lamp,
    Angels from heaven singing lullabies for U,
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    in my small small room,
    I Look At The Bright Bright Stars in the dark dark
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    So close ur eyes N snuggle up tight,
    I’m wishing u sweet dreams tonight!
    Once the moon winks at u tonight,
    I wish sweet dreams embraceyou tight.
    Hope your day was quite all right N now I bid u
    alovely Good Night.
    Pyari si “RAAT” mai.
    Pyare se “ANDHERE” Mai.
    Pyari si “NEEND” mai.
    Pyare se “SAPNO” mai.
    Pyare se “DOST” ko.
    Pyari si “GOOD NIGHT”.
    Sun rested in d west.
    Birds returned 2 d nest.
    Roads r turning quiet.
    Moon is glittering bright.
    I wish u a sweet & wonderful night.
    GOOD NIGHT…….

  10. good day let me share a little testimony about a man that help me cure my HIV I was HIV positive for 13year and I’m from united kingdom the only man that help me cure my disease is Dr Healing this man take me as his son and take care of me I complain everything about me what my family take me for and how people hate me he promise to help me cure this virus luckily to me he keep his promise this man cure me when this man called me and told me that he is done with work my cure, I should go for test I was so confused and surprised about it when go for test I was negative what a great man earth if you need cure email now Hivhealinghome@live.com and get heal totally okay

  11. My names anabel james, I am from uk am here to give my testimony about a doctor who help me in my life. I was infected with HIV virus in the year of 2010,i went to many hospitals, churches for cure but there was no solution out, so I was thinking how can I get a solution out so that i cannot loose my life, I lost everything I have my husband run away from me and also took my children along because of my sickness. One day I was in the river side thinking the next step to take if it is to jump into the river so that I can loose my life totally or just think where I can go to get solution. so a lady walk to me telling me why am I so sad and i open up all to him telling her my stories, she told me that she can help me out that’s the reason she normally come here to help people so that they can be cured because she was into this problem before, she introduce me to a doctor how cast spells for people and gave me he number and email so i called him and also email him.so i gather all my faiths and put in all interest to contact him through his Email address at greatakulasolutionhome@gmail.com , so after i have mailed him of helping get my disease cured, i respond to me fast as possible that i should not be afraid, that he is a truthful and powerful doctor which i firstly claimed him to be. So after all set has been done, he promise me that i will be healed but on a condition that i provide him some items and obeyed all his oracle said. I did all by accepting his oracle fact and only to see that the following week Great Akula mail me on my mail box that my work is successfully done with his powers, i was first shocked and later arise to be the happiest woman on earth after i have concluded my final test on the hospital by my doctor that i am now HIV- Negative. My papers for check are with me and now i am happy and glad for his miraculous help and power.With these i must to everyone who might seek for any help, either for HIV cure or much more to contact him now at these following email now,Email: greatakulasolutionhome@gmail.com ” sir thank you so much for your immediate cure of my disease, i must say for curing my disease, i owe you in return. Thanks and be blessed sir. My name is Anabel James from UK and His Email address is: greatakulasolutionhome@gmail.com or you can call him via his cell phone number on +2348074839242

  12. HELLO
    How can I explain this to the world that there is a man who can cure
    HIV/aids, I was HIV positive for the past 21year I have being into HIV drug since then,so I decide to look for help in the internet then I found this woman post write about
    this great man Dr aye, telling people about him that this man have cured
    to HIV I don’t believe that because all I have in mind is HIV had no cure,
    thank god for my life today am HIV negative through the power of Dr aye, I
    contacted this man for help because who write about him drop an email of
    the man I pick the email and emailed him for the cure this man told me what
    to do about the cure well am from Australia this man cast a curing spell on
    me and he told me that he will call me after the cure is done truly he did
    I was cured for 24hurs spell what a wonderful man this Dr aye, if you need
    his cured just email him now on .ayespellalter@gmail.com you can contact his phone
    number+2349038511070

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