ACT statement on “functional cure” of infant with HIV

March 4, 2013

On Sunday, March 3, media reported that a baby in rural Mississippi had been “functionally cured” of HIV infection through early treatment with antiretrovirals. The details were announced by a team of scientists at the start of the 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

Although many questions remain, ACT welcomes the news with cautious optimism, and hopes the discovery will help the scientific community to better understand HIV and how it is treated, in both children and adults.

This case is unique and applies to immediate treatment in the context of mother-to-child transmission. People living with HIV should continue adhering to their treatment plans as agreed upon with their health-care providers.

With the advent of widespread antiretroviral treatment in Canada, the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission has been reduced to 2.9 per cent of childbirths (Forbes et al., 2012). In this specific case, infection may have been prevented in the first place through improved access to testing and treatment programs.

Most mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the world today occurs due to poor access to HIV testing and treatment. In 2012, a bill was narrowly defeated in the House of Commons that would have greatly improved access to HIV medications around the world, saving lives and reducing infections (www.aidslaw.ca/camr). Medical advancements can create new treatments, but only legislative action can cure the barriers.

For more information, please contact:

Andrew Brett, Communications Coordinator
AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT)
416-340-8484 ext. 225
abrett@actoronto.org