Local Doctors React to Potential HIV Breakthrough
Reports out of Mississippi over the weekend that a baby had been cured of an HIV infection has the medical world buzzing. Some doctors call this a breakthrough in how they treat infected newborns.
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Those working with HIV pediatric patients at Golisano Children's Hospital say a breakthrough in eradicating the virus in newborns, such as the one in Mississippi, hasn't happened many times if at all. Dr. Geoff Weinberg is director of the hospital's Pediatric HIV Program.
"I think it shows us how little we know and how much there is to learn after 20 years of AIDS research that we still need to keep pushing onwards. I think if it holds up it could be very exciting, at least in the biology of HIV and how to develop better treatments and possibly cures," Weinberg said.
Dr. Hannah Gay treated the baby aggressively for 15 months at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Three drugs, usually not administered until a patient is older, were used in treating the infant. Dr. Gay then lost track of the mother and child for five months.
"The mom admitted that she had not been giving the medicine for the past several months. I fully expected the baby's viral load to go back up, but when we drew the test, we got back there was still an undetectable viral load."
At AIDS Care Rochester, Dr. William Valenti believes the world of HIV is different today because of the pediatric case in Mississippi. He says what has to happen now are more studies of children treated with those drugs early on in their diagnosis.
"What it means for me in adult HIV is taking another look at those hiding spots, the reservoir, and trying to find ways to get virus out and try and get it out of the body. The thing that's most important about this whole thing though is it supports the idea treating people with HIV, treating them as early as possible," Valenti said.
Doctors Valenti and Weinberg say the best treatment for HIV is getting tested. AIDS Care Rochester offers free HIV testing where results are available within 20 minutes.