Early Antiretroviral Therapy could be beneficial for infants with HIV
Kathmandu, December 30
Researchers claimed that early Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) could be beneficial for those who contract HIV at birth.
The Early Infant Treatment (EIT) Study, led by Roger Shapiro from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Mathias Lichterfeld, and Daniel Kuritzkes both from Brigham and Women's Hospital, investigated antiretroviral therapy's possibility in newborns from Botswana as, in 2010, an infant with HIV born in Mississippi was given antiretroviral therapy (ART) within 30 hours of her birth. This infant was then able to maintain spontaneous viral control for several months after stopping antiretroviral therapy, raising the possibility that early treatment might make a critical difference for newborns, as per Science Daily.
As per the study published in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers from the Brigham conducted immunological and virological testing, finding that initiating ART immediately, rather than waiting a few weeks, provided measurable benefits for infants born with HIV.
The researchers tracked data of 10 infants enrolled in the EIT study who were HIV positive at birth. The team calculated the number of virally infected cells—typically called viral reservoir cells—and other different types of innate and adaptive immune responses.
According to the researchers, they also observed that the number of reservoir cells was extremely small (significantly smaller than in adults who were on ART for a median of 16 years). Similarly, the number of reservoir cells was also significantly smaller than in infected infants who started treatment later. The team also identified specific types of innate immune cells (NK cells and monocytes) that were on the rise while the viral reservoir size shrank, suggesting that these cells may influence or modulate viral reservoir cells.
"Our study suggests that strategies to test and treat infants immediately after birth may improve outcomes. We find that ART initiation within hours after birth is doable and translates into multiple benefits for the infants—lower frequencies of reservoir cells and improved immune responses," said Lichterfeld as quoted in Science Daily.