CROI Is Over -- and a Baby Once Again Takes Center Stage

March 10, 2014

Paul E. Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, M.D., is director of the HIV Program and Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

One of our fellows asked me this AM when I was posting a RRR (Really Rapid Review™) of CROI 2014, and my response was to clear my throat, make some vague excuses, and curse the respiratory viruses that seem as perpetual as the cold weather this year.

It's in the works, promise -- but in the meantime, did you see the New York Times Editorial Page yesterday? Under the title, "Great Hope for Babies With H.I.V.," the editorial cites the case reported at CROI last week of a second baby possibly "cured" of HIV after starting ART soon after birth.

Why do I use the word possibly and put the word "cured" in quotes? From the Times:

The baby, now 9 months old, has no signs of virus in her blood that can be detected by the most highly sophisticated tests. She cannot be considered "cured" or even "in remission" because she is still taking the drugs.

Yes, that bolding is mine.

Isn't it incredible how much attention this case has received, despite that oh-so-important fact?

Prediction: One day we will be treating all babies born to HIV-infected mothers who are not receiving ART with combination therapy, at least initially.

But until we have more than a few of these anecdotes -- especially those that have stopped treatment and not experienced viral rebound -- let's calm down already.

Paul Sax is Clinical Director of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital. His blog HIV and ID Observations is part of Journal Watch, where he is Editor-in-Chief of Journal Watch AIDS Clinical Care.

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