(HealthDay News) – A baby born with HIV and treated very early may represent the first functional cure of HIV, according to research presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, held from March 3–6 in Atlanta.

Usually, babies suspected of being exposed to HIV are treated prophylactically at birth but wait four to six weeks for tests to confirm their status before starting drug therapy. In this case, the initial and confirming tests were completed within one day and the baby started drug treatment immediately.

Though children born with HIV are expected to take medications for the rest of their lives, this child discontinued medication at 18 months. Tests taken 10 months later, however, suggested the virus had ceased replicating, which was unusual since the child (now two-and-a-half years old) was no longer taking medications.

“For us this is a very exciting finding. By treating a baby very early [we may be able to] prevent viral reservoirs or cells that stay around for a lifetime of an infected person,” said lead study author Deborah Persaud, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.

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