Baby ‘Cured’ of HIV?
But Kline said he is wary of the term “cure.” So far it has been used in the case of one Mississippi baby, who was treated aggressively after being born to an HIV-positive mother and testing positive for the infection shortly after birth.
“It’s an interesting single case, not unlike cases I have seen personally and others have seen,” he said, describing how infants sometimes have signs of infection after birth that disappear with time. “They don’t occur commonly, but they do occur.”
Kline described the case of a baby boy who tested positive for the virus, and then negative, and then positive and then negative again. Twenty-two years later, the patient still has signs of the virus but remains healthy - having never received treatment.
“These are unusual cases and I do think we have something to learn from them,” Kline said. “But to say this baby was cured because we gave him powerful medications in the first 30 hours of life, I think that’s a real stretch.”
The case also raises ethical questions, since antiretroviral drugs can have toxic side effects, according to Kline.
“I think that’s actually one of the overriding concerns here,” he said, adding that most babies born to HIV-positive mothers actually escape the infection. “I simply do not think this one case has any potential to change the clinical management of infants born to HIV-positive mothers.”
Even Broadbent, a “guinea pig” herself, had concerns.
“I don’t know how I feel about testing on children,” she said. “I think all pregnant women should be tested and treated. Hopefully it will become mandatory and routine, so there will be no more children born with HIV. That’s very possible.”
By KATIE MOISSE