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AIDS Treatment News
Infected Infant Appears to Clear HIV

April 7, 1995
AIDS TREATMENT NEWS #220, April 7, 1995

A baby who was HIV infected at birth appears to have cleared the virus and become HIV-negative, according to an article in the March 30 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE.

Viral culture tests were positive at 19 and 51 days of age, but all later tests have been negative. Because samples were saved, the virus could be tested again later; it was found to be identical, and related to the mother's virus, largely ruling out the possibility that the HIV-positive sample had been mislabeled and was really from someone else.

Other cases of seroreversion in infants, in which an HIV infection appears to have cleared, have been found by the same research group (at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine), and have been reported in the medical literature by others. But these reports have usually been attributed to laboratory mistakes. While testing can be repeated to make sure that the person is indeed HIV negative, usually it is impossible to rule out a mistake in the original test which found them to be positive. The current case is important because it was documented well enough to convince the researchers, and the NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. Many other cases may have been missed; researchers will be more open to this possibility in the future.

These cases may be important in helping researchers discover what kind of immune response is effective against the virus -- information which could contribute to both vaccine and treatment development.