It was huge (huge!) news last year when a team of doctors led by Johns Hopkins virologist Dr. Deborah Persaud announced that they had effectively cured a baby born with HIV. This week, doctors announced that a second baby born with HIV was treated with a similar regimen — and after undergoing ultrasensitive tests to detect the virus, has also been declared HIV-free.
(Also – just to get this out of the way – you’re not technically supposed to say that these babies have been cured. They are still on antiretroviral drugs. However, if you test their blood, you don’t find any evidence of the virus. Persaud prefers the phrase “having sero-reverted to H.I.V.-negative.” But, well, that’s kind of clunky.)
This second success is a big deal, because some people questioned whether the infant Persaud cured was even born with the disease at all. Tests of this baby’s blood and spinal fluids revealed clear evidence of the disease, which means she was definitely infected at birth. She was immediately started on the drug regimen; six days later, the virus started vanishing, and eleven days after it was completely undetectable — even when Dr. Persaud used a particularly sensitive kind of test.
Although this particular cure came out of a hospital in Long Beach, California, we’ll congratulate Dr. Persaud for her part, too. Here’s to many more cures in the future!