Toronto Diary
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Doctors ‘functionally cure’ child born with HIV

Thanks to advances in retroviral medication, HIV has become a manageable virus, albeit one that you’d probably rather avoid. The good news is that HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence; the bad news is that it requires a daily cocktail of medication to keep under control, which, for those without healthcare plans, are nigh impossible to afford.

There is, however, a silver lining here: in an unprecedented medical case, an unnamed child born with HIV has been “functionally cured” of HIV. For the sake of clarity, “functionally cured” means that the virus cannot be detected in the patient’s blood stream using any modern-day testing (although some traces of the virus can be found in the body — hypothetically, in the spinal and ocular fluid), and the child has, amazingly, remained undetectable without the use of retroviral medication.

Dr Hannah Gay, who cared for the child at the University of Mississippi medical centre, told the Guardian the case amounted to the first “functional cure” of an HIV-infected child. A patient is functionally cured of HIV when standard tests are negative for the virus, but it is likely that a tiny amount remains in their body.

"Now, after at least one year of taking no medicine, this child’s blood remains free of virus even on the most sensitive tests available,” Gay said.

"We expect that this baby has great chances for a long, healthy life. We are certainly hoping that this approach could lead to the same outcome in many other high-risk babies,” she added. [SOURCE]

So basically, doctors have found a way for seropositive people to remain undetectable (inasmuch as science has been able to detect) without resorting to a life-long regimen of medicine. That being said, this is a unique case thus far, and it’s only worked on a child, so whether or not this will work on adults is up for debate. Still, this is a remarkable step nonetheless.

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