9-Year-Old Child in South Africa 'Virtually Cured' Of HIV Infection

While the HIV prevalence takes a long time to shift, the massive scale-up of prevention and treatments efforts have greatly reduced the number of new infections in the country.

Doctors confirmed that the child, whose name was revealed, was given treatment shortly after birth but the boy has been off drugs for 8½ years without symptoms or signs of active virus.

More than half of people infected with HIV worldwide are now getting drugs, and AIDS-related deaths have nearly halved since 2005, putting the world on track to hit the target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020, the United Nations said last week.

The HIV and AIDS Registry of the Philippines said the cases reported in the month of May breached the 1,000 mark for the first time in Philippine history. "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 HIV infection, Fauci said.

The child, who was not identified, was part of a study known as the Children with HIV Early Antiretroviral Therapy, or CHER, trial, which ran from 2005 to 2011.

Once this was achieved, some continued taking oral treatment as maintenance while the rest were shifted onto the prototype, injectable ARV, administered every four or eight weeks.

Since the epidemic erupted in the 1980s, 76.1-million people have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

As a 32-day old infant diagnosed with HIV, the South African baby received medication that stops the AIDS virus from replicating.

Speaking to The Guardian, Caroline Tiemessen from Johannesburg's National Institute of Communicable Diseases said, "By further studying the child, we may expand our understanding of how the immune system controls HIV replication".

Based on the report, HIV infections in these 10 countries occurred mainly among sex workers and their customers, gay men and other men who had sex with men, people using drugs by injections, transgender people and others.

Last week, the United Nations said more than half of all people with the HIV virus have access to treatment but advocates remain concerned Trump's proposed budget cuts from the biggest donor nation, which is said to reduce financial aid to global HIV programs by $1 billion, CGTN America reported. Within these bodily fluids, the HIV virus is present as free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells.

Dr David Margolis, study leader and director of HIV drug development at ViiV Healthcare, North Carolina, US, said: "Adherence to medication remains an important challenge in HIV treatment".

Early therapy, which attacks the virus before it has a chance to fully establish itself in the child, has been implicated in two similar cases before the latest instance. They used very sensitive test, and found that a tiny proportion of the child's immune cells contained the virus, but the virus was dormant. Since 2010, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 42% and new HIV infections have declined by 29%, including a 56% drop in new HIV infections among children.

  • Santos West