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Fighting AIDS

Posted: March 6, 2014 2:34 p.m.
Updated: March 7, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The last couple weeks have brought astounding new developments in treatment of babies born with AIDS, raising for the first time the hope that perhaps a treatment has been found that will eradicate the disease in newborns who are born to mothers infected by the HIV virus. The first such case was reported last year, but there was skepticism among many in the scientific community. Earlier this week, a second similar case was reported. The first child, dubbed the “Mississippi baby,” is now 3 years old and still virus-free; the second one shows no signs of HIV nine months after receiving the treatment. More extensive clinical trials are set to begin soon, which could result in radical new positive outlooks for the 250,000 babies born each year with the AIDS virus, most of them in third-world countries.

And there’s more good news on the HIV front. Researchers reported Tuesday that injections of long-lasting AIDS drugs fended off infection in monkeys and announced new approaches that could allow immune cells to fight off the virus, thereby raising hope of an effective vaccine.

In 1980, when the first case of AIDS in the United States was recognized, it was a death sentence. There have been major advances since then, and many people now live long, productive lives while carrying the disease. This week’s two announcements represent a quantum leap forward.

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