Child with HIV in remission without drugs since infancy

A newly announced case study shows that a 9-year-old child diagnosed with HIV as a 1-month-old and treated during infancy remains in remission some eight years after the drug regimen ended.

Researchers announced this week that the South African child received anti-HIV treatment as an infant and has suppressed the virus without any additional drugs for the last eight and a half years, according to the National Institutes of Health.

This appears to be the third such case.

In another case, a baby born with HIV in 2010 received treatment 30 hours after birth until about 18 months of age. The virus reappeared in the child’s blood after 27 months without drugs.

In the other known case, a French child born with HIV in 1996 started therapy at 3 months old and stopped treatment sometime between 5 ½ and 7 years old. In 2015, more than 11 years after treatment stopped, the child still had no sign of the virus, according to NIH.

“Further study is needed to learn how to induce long-term HIV remission in infected babies,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health in a news release. “However, this new case strengthens our hope that by treating HIV-infected children for a brief period beginning in infancy, we may be able to spare them the burden of life-long therapy and the health consequences of long-term immune activation typically associated with HIV disease.”

With the current case, the child was diagnosed in 2007 at 32 days old. The child, as part of a NIH study, received therapy for 40 weeks, beginning when the child was 9 weeks old.

Before starting treatment, the infant had very high levels of HIV in the blood, but the treatment suppressed the virus to undetectable levels, according to the NIH.

Now, at 9 ½ years old, the child still shows neither symptoms of HIV infection nor detectable levels of HIV.

“To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of sustained control of HIV in a child enrolled in a randomized trial of ART (antiretroviral therapy) interruption following treatment early in infancy,” said Avy Violari, who co-led the study, in the news release.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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