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Second case of US baby 'HIV-free' after early treatment

A US baby treated for HIV within hours of birth has now been declared free of the virus nearly a year later, doctors say. The child is the second successful case and has raised hopes about early treatment.

A 9-month-old baby who was born in Los Angeles, California with the HIV virus may have been cured after doctors began early treatments just four hours after her birth, medical researchers said on Wednesday.

The child is the second case believed to now be HIV-free, following a Mississippi baby who has been off treatment for 21 months with no detectable virus in her system after doctors administered antiretroviral drugs in the first hours of life, said Persaud.

Both mothers were infected, while pregnant with the children, with HIV, which gradually destroys the body's immune system and leads to AIDS.

The latest research on the two children was presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston.

"We don't know if the baby is in remission ... but it looks like that," said Dr. Yvonne Bryson, a specialist at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA who consulted on the girl's care.

The baby is still being treated and doctors are cautious to suggest she has been cured, "but that's obviously our hope," Bryson said.

Dr. Deborah Persaud, a pediatrics specialist with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said the only way to prove remission is by taking the children off treatment, which would be risky. "This is a call to action for us to mobilize and be able to learn from these cases," she said at the conference.

In the US, most HIV-infected moms receive AIDS medicines during pregnancy, which greatly cuts the chances they will pass the virus to their children.

The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, has infected some 70 million people worldwide and taken the lives of 35 million. There is no known cure for AIDS.

hc/dr (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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