HIV POSITIVE BABY SEROCONVERTS
by Sean Henahan, Access Excellence
BOSTON- The case of a five year old child who was born
infected with HIV and has since shown no sign of the virus or
symptoms of disease has galvanized the AIDS research community.
The case is described in the New England Journal of Medicine
by Dr. Yvonne Bryson, a pediatric AIDS specialist at UC Los
Angeles. The child was born of an HIV positive mother and showed
no evidence of HIV infection. However, 19 days later, and again
51 days later, the baby's HIV antibody test came back positive.
Yet subsequent testing revealed neither HIV antibodies, viral
particles or other signs of HIV infection, the researchers
report. The baby's mother has also remained free of AIDS,
although she remains HIV positive.
The majority of babies born to HIV-positive mothers do not
become infected with the virus. This case is quite different, in
that the baby apparently was born HIV-positive and then somehow
eliminated the virus from his system.
This is not the first report of a baby born HIV positive
subsequently becoming HIV-free. An estimated two percent of
babies born to HIV positive mothers are reported to become HIV
negative after initially showing signs of HIV infection. The
thing that distinguishes this case is that it that is the first
case to be carefully studied and documented using the full
panoply of molecular biology diagnostic techniques.
Some researchers have urged caution in the interpretation of
this case. Some have voiced concern that DNA sequences of the HIV
initially found in the baby do not match those found in the
mother. Another possibility is that the virus is dormant in the
lymph nodes or brain cells of the child.
This case joins the list of reports involving exposure to
HIV without subsequent progression to AIDS. Studies are already
underway in a small group of adult patients known as long-term
non-progressors, i.e. patients who remain HIV positive, but who
never show any decline in their immune systems or any symptoms of
AIDS. Also, almost from the beginning of the AIDS epidemic there
have been reports of long-term partners of HIV positive patients
remaining free of infection. A group of prostitutes in Zambia who
appear to be immune to HIV infection despite repeated exposure
are also being studied.
This case study is reported in NEJM, Y.Bryson, 3/30/95. For
related information on long-term non-progressors and the Zambian
prostitute studies, see the article Natural Immunity to HIV
Transmitted: 95-03-30 19:34:15 EST