Published: Wed, July 26, 2017
Health Care | By Jeffery Armstrong

HIV cases highest since 1984

HIV cases highest since 1984

This is according to research presented on Monday at the 9th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science taking place in Paris this week.

The child initially caught the infection from her mother around the time of her birth in 2007.

After eight and a half years of no treatment, they still have shown no signs of the virus.

HIV, which is known to affect more than 36.7 million people worldwide, is one of the deadliest viruses around today - since it was discovered, it's taken the lives of more than 35 million victims, according to the World Health Organization.

"This is the highest recorded cases ever since 1984", the report said.

"It gives us hope that we may be able to do the same in more than just children", Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health told NBC News in an interview from Paris, where he is attending the conference.

The child's immune system has been healthy ever since receiving a short course of treatment in early age making him the first reported case of a child controlling their HIV infection without drugs in Africa, CNN reported.

Though early anti-retroviral therapy was not standard practice at the time, it was given to the child from nine weeks old as part of a clinical trial. Especially because there were other children in the trial, who received the same early treatment, but didn't have the same outcome.

Dr Avy Violari, the head of paediatric research at the Perinal HIV Research Unit in Johannesburg, said: "We don't believe that antiretroviral therapy alone can lead to remission".

Since the epidemic erupted in the 1980s, 76.1-million people have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

A child diagnosed with HIV as a baby has gone into remission, raising hopes for a cure among sufferers, scientists said.

"Further study is needed to learn how to induce long-term HIV remission in infected babies", Fauci said.

Based on the report, HIV infections in these 10 countries occurred mainly among sex workers and their customers, gay men and other men who had sex with men, people using drugs by injections, transgender people and others.

The "Mississippi Baby" was put on treatment within 30 hours of birth and went 27 months without treatment before HIV re-emerged in her blood. However, a follow-up analysis of the stored blood samples taken over this period indicates that the virus hasn't returned. The girl, whose identity wasn't disclosed, started HIV drugs when she was two months old and stopped just after 40 weeks. However, the country scored poorly in ensuring HIV-positive people had access to treatment, with only 39% of patients undergoing anti-viral therapy.

ART not only stops HIV from replicating and attacking a patient's immune system, but also curbs its spread to sexual partners. They used very sensitive test, and found that a tiny proportion of the child's immune cells contained the virus, but the virus was dormant.

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