(CNN) – The first time, it happened almost by accident.
Just hours after delivery, a baby born with HIV in Mississippi was given high doses of three antiretroviral drugs. More than three years later, doctors say the little girl has no evidence of the life-threatening disease in her blood, despite being off medication for nearly two years.
Now doctors say another child born with the virus appears to be free of HIV after receiving similar treatment. The case report was presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston this week.
The girl was delivered at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, California, last summer to a mother with AIDS. Doctors gave the baby high doses of antiretroviral drugs — AZT, 3TC and Nevirapine — four hours after birth. Eleven days later, the virus was undetectable in her body and remained undetectable nine months later.
The California baby is still on antiretroviral treatment, so it’s too soon to tell if the child is actually in remission.
“Taking kids off antiretroviral therapy intentionally is not standard of care,” said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a virologist with Johns Hopkins Children’s Center who has been involved in both cases. “At this time, there is no plan to stop treatment.”
While doctors around the world are trying to duplicate the Mississippi case, more research needs to be done before new standards are implemented for treating babies born with HIV.
“This has to be done in a clinical trial setting, because really the only way we can prove that we’ve accomplished remission in these cases is by taking them off treatment, and that’s not without risks,” Persaud said during her presentation at the conference.
A clinical trial designed to test the effectiveness of this early treatment technique on infants born with HIV is set to begin in the next couple of months, she said.
The results could be a game changer in the fight against AIDS.