Latest Breakthrough Brings Fresh Hope for an AIDS-free Future

By Jeffrey Safrit | March 6, 2014

Jeffrey Safrit, Ph.D., is the Director of Clinical and Basic Research at EGPAF. Watch above as he discusses this latest breakthrough with NBC 4 in Los Angeles!

Yesterday, news broke that a second baby has potentially been functionally cured of HIV.  The baby, born in Long Beach, CA, to an HIV-positive mother, was diagnosed with HIV immediately after birth. The pediatricians responsible for the infant's care took early action against the virus, giving her medications less than four hours after she was born.  The baby girl—now nearly a year old—shows no sign of the virus. 

This news comes one year after the first case of an infant being functionally cured was reported out of Mississippi. Similar to the Long Beach Baby, the Mississippi Baby was also given medications within hours of birth. However, the Mississippi Baby, who is now 3 years old, stopped receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) at 18 months of age. The Long Beach Baby remains on ART. This is an important distinction because the definition of a functional cure means that there is no sign of HIV, even after treatment is stopped.

In order to know for sure if the Long Beach Baby has truly been functionally cured of HIV, treatment would need to be suspended to see if the virus comes back.  While this has yet to happen, a clinical trial to replicate these results in 50 infants is set to begin in about three months.

The excitement of a second possible case of an infant “cured” of HIV is worth celebrating! For more than 25 years, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) has been supporting research and implementation programs worldwide to end pediatric HIV. This latest breakthrough, led in part by Elizabeth Glaser Science Award recipient Deborah Persaud, M.D., gives us fresh hope that we can achieve an AIDS-free generation within this lifetime.

Join EGPAF in our effort to end pediatric HIV around the world.