Mar
05
2013

Baby is cured of AIDS: how big a deal is this really?

AIDS ribbon: Could new treatments for newborns with AIDS be the lead to researchers need to find a cure for the disease?
AIDS ribbon: Could new treatments for newborns with AIDS be the lead to researchers need to find a cure for the disease?Courtesy Gary van der Merwe
The news earlier this week generated big headlines. A baby born in Mississippi two years ago with AIDS has been cured. But how ground-breaking is the situation really?

That's the question now before researchers and medical review boards. Is this the first step in break-through treatment or a medical oddity? Here's an article that provides a great summary of the situation.

On the diminished side of the coin, transmission of AIDS from mother to infant is a relatively rare occurrence these days. Three separate treatments can be administered when an HIV-positive mother becomes pregnant, greatly reducing the risk of transmission of the virus to the child. More than 90 percent of all cases of AIDS transmission to babies happen in sub-Saharan Africa. And, can these same treatments have the same impact in adults?

On the other hand, in this particular situation, the mother received no prenatal care prior to delivery, so the infant received no treatment for the situation prior to delivery. The presence of AIDS was discovered during delivery, so the treatments given to the newborn – all three forms of the typical prenatal treatments – were administered after birth. Some researchers say that this could be the first step in new approaches of treatment for adults with AIDS. Some even proclaim it the first step toward an AIDS-free generation.

What do you think? Is this a medical oddity or a medical breakthrough? What research or information would you like to see to determine if this would be a good avenue to travel to eradicate AIDS?

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