UCSD researchers help confirm HIV cure
The startling finding that it may be possible to cure HIV infection in babies was confirmed, in part, by a UC San Diego researcher who has helped direct the war against the virus since AIDS emerged as a global health threat in the 1980s.
Dr. Douglas Richman said he worked with a team of East Coast researchers last fall to analyze blood samples for traces of HIV from the Mississippi toddler who appeared to have been “functionally cured” of the virus.
Richman said he used sensitive equipment that separated the blood samples into thousands of tiny droplets in order to perform the HIV analysis, which doctors call an assay.
“We basically helped do assays to confirm that there was no detectable (replicating) virus in the baby,” Richman said Monday, speaking from the 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.
Those findings helped lead to Sunday’s announcement at the same conference that scientists had effectively cured the unnamed baby of HIV infection by giving her high doses of three common antiretroviral drugs within 30 hours of her birth. The toddler was born in July 2010 and continued taking the drugs for 18 months. She then went off the medication, but the virus has not emerged in her blood stream, suggesting a path forward in curing other babies.