Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech Medicine Science

Child Thought To Be Cured of HIV Relapses, Tests Positive Again 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the poor-kid dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Mississippi child, who was born with HIV passed from her mother, received HIV treatment for 18 months after her birth. In the course of over two years after the treatment, her blood indicated no trace of the virus or of HIV-specific antibodies, leading many to hope that she may have been cured completely. Earlier this month, however, the virus was detected again. Nearly 4 years old, the child is once more being given HIV treatment, and scientists are trying to figure out how she could have gone so long before relapsing.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Child Thought To Be Cured of HIV Relapses, Tests Positive Again

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hate to imagine it....but reinfection?

    • by Major Blud (789630) on Friday July 11, 2014 @10:21AM (#47431007) Homepage

      When I first read about this on CNN the other day, the article stated that the child's mother had stopped giving her the anti-viral medication she was prescribed. There was no an explanation as to why.

      • by Major Blud (789630) on Friday July 11, 2014 @10:28AM (#47431055) Homepage

        Found the article:

        http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/10/... [cnn.com]

        "The child remained on antiretroviral drugs for approximately 18 months. Her mother then stopped administering the drugs for an unknown reason".

        • by mwvdlee (775178) on Friday July 11, 2014 @10:36AM (#47431135) Homepage

          GP implies stopping the drugs was the direct cause for the relapse.
          The CNN article states the child was initially "functionally cured" a few months after stopping the drugs.
          The facts us readers know, indicate neither correlation nor causation between stopping drugs and the relapse.

          • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday July 11, 2014 @10:44AM (#47431199) Homepage Journal

            Oh this is the most intellectually lazy of bullshit.

            Saying "Why would stopping treatment lead to a relapse?" as if there was no trivially understood relationship there. It's just... silly. I mean, come on bro, no one wants to jump to conclusions, but this is like saying "I stopped watering my houseplant, and at some point, it died. We don't know there's any relationship there."

            • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday July 11, 2014 @12:27PM (#47432015)

              ... this is like saying "I stopped watering my houseplant, and at some point, it died. We don't know there's any relationship there."

              My favorite line from a college Logic book: "Breathing causes death. Everyone who has died was an habitual breather."

              • Strictly speaking, the assertion mwvdlee makes is logical. You can't affirm the consequent like that. But it's completely unreasonable in that it freely disregards other available(and in fact trivially commonplace) information about how diseases, and HIV in particular, work.

        • From this blog post [scienceblogs.com] it sounds like the mother taking her off the drugs was what prompted the initial finding: the doctors would have been unethical to tell someone to take their HIV + kid off antivirals because there's a chance they may have killed all the viruses.

          As far as why, the cocktail isn't super convenient. It's a bunch of pills taken throughout the day. Getting a toddler to take multiple pills a day every day is probably a very frustrating thing. I'd imagine the mother (who didn't have an
      • by Sockatume (732728)

        That's what originally excited the doctors: the kid was off her antiretrovirals for two years without relapse.

    • I expect it is more of a case where they got the numbers down so low that the infection wouldn't register, perhaps hibernating in a nook in the body. After the virus stopped getting assaulted it was allow to grow and infect again.
       

      • by gregor-e (136142)
        As wikipedia assures us (emphasis added):

        A retrovirus is a single-stranded RNA virus that stores its nucleic acid in the form of an mRNA genome (including the 5' cap and 3' PolyA tail) and targets a host cell as an obligate parasite. Once inside the host cell cytoplasm the virus uses its own reverse transcriptase enzyme to produce DNA from its RNA genome, the reverse of the usual pattern, thus retro (backwards). This new DNA is then incorporated into the host cell genome by an integrase enzyme, at which p
      • Meaning the virus can never be eliminated, but only reduced asymptotically; thus the symptoms are asymptomatic.

    • by barlevg (2111272) on Friday July 11, 2014 @10:30AM (#47431073)
      The Washington Post story [washingtonpost.com] states:

      Researchers confirmed through DNA sequencing that the infection in the child is not a new infection, but was the one passed from the mother.

      • by Wycliffe (116160)

        The Washington Post story [washingtonpost.com] states:

        Researchers confirmed through DNA sequencing that the infection in the child is not a new infection, but was the one passed from the mother.

        If the reinfection is also from the mother (which is what is most likely) then how can they tell whether it is the original infection or a reinfection
        from the mother as presumably it's still the same strain in the mother.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          If the reinfection is also from the mother (which is what is most likely) then how can they tell whether it is the original infection or a reinfection
          from the mother as presumably it's still the same strain in the mother.

          I *think* it tends to mutate when it spreads.

          If it has the virus exact same DNA as the mother (or at least the same strain the child already had), then it likely means that this is the strain the child got while in utero. If it was a fresh infection it would be slightly different from the

        • by arth1 (260657)

          If the reinfection is also from the mother (which is what is most likely)

          How can you say that is most likely?
          HIV does not spread easily. The panic times when people wore gloves and masks around the HIV infected are long gone, thankfully. The HIV virus spreading to family members is quite rare.
          Diseases staying dormant for a long time is, however, not unusual at all.
          So again, on what basis do you draw the conclusion that a re-infection is most likely?

      • by wiwa (905999)

        Researchers confirmed through DNA sequencing that the infection in the child is not a new infection, but was the one passed from the mother.

        Well, if it was a reinfection then I would expect the mother (or possibly father) to be the likely source. There are all kinds of ways that a mother could accidentally pass on the virus to a young child, especially if her infection isn't well-managed and the child isn't on anti-retrovirals. Could they tell the difference between the original infection and a reinfection if they came from the same source? I can't see how they could.

        • by Sique (173459)
          By looking at the genetic deviation so far. It can tell you when the both virus tribes have split. If this were a reinfection, it will be genetically even more close to the one found in the mother. If it were an infection from another source, it will be far more different.
    • Well, we know Mom is degenerate in some capacity. My first thought was intentional exposure by Mom.

    • So the relapse will not be covered

  • by beltsbear (2489652) on Friday July 11, 2014 @10:40AM (#47431153)

    Why is this at all surprising? We know how HIV works and that it can hide in cells. So when someone is 'cleared' of it you can never be sure. The longer the drugs are taken increases the chances of clearing any dormant HIV (when it emerges). One can statistically figure out the best time to stop the treatment and many people could be free from reinfection for life but it is not a 100% certainty.

    The only news is that a mother stopped the drugs too early.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      It's surprising because she wasn't clear of the disease before she went off her medication, and then went two years without a relapse.

    • Why is this at all surprising?

      Who says it's surprising? "Surprising" is not a necessary property for a story to make the news.

    • The initial finding of "baby cured of HIV" was surprising for the reasons you just mentioned. You're suggesting the story shouldn't be updated because it's not surprising? Well, unfortunately, you'll get your wish. I'm pretty sure people will forget this "Nevermind, no miracle after all" and will use the initial story as a reason to go off their meds.
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday July 11, 2014 @10:43AM (#47431189) Homepage

    The more shocking part of this article isn't that the patient wasn't cured of a disease for which we have no cure, but that anyone thought she was in the first place.

    • by Tx (96709)

      Umm, they couldn't find any trace of the HIV virus, or specific antibodies to it. It seems reasonable to hope that someone is cured of a disease if you can't find any trace of said disease in their body. And it's not like they jumped the gun on it, she was supposed to be on anti-viral drugs because they weren't sure the virus was gone.

    • They thought she had been cured because treatement had stopped and the virus had not returned as expected.

      Turns out they were wrong, the virus just took longer to return than expected.

  • There's a difference. Given that the human body sucks at fighting HIV, its not as if she did something and 'relapsed', the virus merely came back out of hiding from wherever it lurks (marrow, lymph, spleen, etc).

    It's like how animals don't "evolve", rather then ones who DONT change simply die. No animal DECIDES to suddenly grow fins or stripes.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      It's like how animals don't "evolve", rather then ones who DONT change simply die.

      Untrue - some (many) mutations are bad, and the ones that change are the ones that die.

      Evolution occurs when a mutation is a) beneficial and b) significant enough that it allows an animal to survive longer than those without that mutation. Being alive longer means they breed more. Breeding generally passes on the mutation.

      It really is quite random, and there is no guarantee that the animals that change are better. Indeed for an animal that's particularly well suited to an environment that hasn't changed

    • by gigaherz (2653757)
      IIRC, there's proof that the cells can purposefully activate or deactivate certain genes, and those activations become more permanent in the offspring. So animals DO have some level of "purposeful" evolution over their lives, not just over thousands of generations and natural selection.
    • by Khashishi (775369)

      There's a difference? What is the difference? You didn't explain the difference; you just gave some weird analogy.

  • It's not voodoo. It's science. When you stop doing what works, bad things happen again.

  • That sounds more like Microsoft Windows

    • Yup, if you disable Windows Update and refuse to keep your PC up to date with the latest security fixes, you are going to get malware.
  • by MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) on Friday July 11, 2014 @01:05PM (#47432385)

    Seems to me stupid to say a person is cured if they have to keep taking meds to prevent a relapse.
    By that standard insulin is a cure for diabetes.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Seems to me stupid to say a person is cured if they have to keep taking meds to prevent a relapse.
      By that standard insulin is a cure for diabetes.

      They thought she might have been cured as she went two years without the meds without suffering a relapse. Typically, a relapse occurs within weeks of discontinuing the medication.

      But that ended up bring wrong, as she eventually did relapse, so now they need to figure out why it took so long for that to happen.

  • by jjn1056 (85209) <jjn1056&yahoo,com> on Friday July 11, 2014 @01:49PM (#47432739) Homepage Journal

    I don't have anything else to add...

  • It's not like you can't get the HIV again once you've been cured of it. Are we going to rule that out just because we don't want to think about how a 4 year old might contract HIV again after being cured of it?
    • by Reziac (43301) *

      I had the thought that yeah, since mom is infected it could be a re-infection, but not necessarily through what I suspect you're thinking. Any accidental exchange of bodily fluids can suffice. Did mom have a cold sore and kiss the child on the lips? (Remember kids have potential breaks in the mouth due to new teeth) Might be enough.

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"

Working...