The Human Immuno deficiency has long been incurable and scientists have been tasked with the goal of curing HIV and AIDS, this until now has been far from their reach. The epidemic has been prominent in Western Europe in particular with an increase in the number of diagnoses year on year, worldwide an estimated 36.7 million people are living with HIV. It is vital that a cure is found in order prevent it from benefiting with the increasing population.
In South Africa, an infected nine year old who had been infected with HIV at birth, has survived so far without the need for treatment, something which doctors see a lot of potential in. AIDS is the latter stage of HIV and the progress that the child is making so far opens up doors to a potential vaccination for HIV. In order for the child to make the progress, a short period after birth involved with treatment being given. From there on the child has not been given any treatment and their immune system is in stable condition, not under danger from developing AIDS. The treatment known as antiretroviral therapy was given to the child from nine weeks old, not the norm at the time, and the treatment allowed for the virus to become effectively undetectable. However this is not the first time that this instance has occurred, with the case of the “Mississippi Baby” who was given similar treatment at birth and went for 27 months untreated before HIV had returned in her blood. Furthermore a patient in France has gone more than 11 years without treatment, and some scientists are stating that this “supposed” state of remission is possible due to genetic or immune system related reasons. The head of paediatric research at the Perinal HIV Research Unit in Johannesburg, Dr Avy Violari said “We don’t believe antiretroviral therapy alone can lead to remission”. This somewhat dampens the potential of this therapy, however it also increases determination to replicate the therapy for future application for other viruses, note that around 53% worldwide receive antiretroviral therapy.
The child still has the virus in their immune system, but they are not active, rather latent – in a state of hiding. This poses a question of if the child is need for treatment in the future, a point at which HIV could become active.