Health Current Affairs

The Miracle girl “Mississippi baby”cured of HIV as an infant now detected with virus again

The baby girl who had emerged as a ray of hope for the global combat against AIDS, when she was cured of HIV after being born to an infected mother has now been detected with the HIV virus.

In a huge setback to researchers, the child known as the “Mississippi baby” who when put on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) within 30 hours of birth was cured in 2013 by stopping the formation of viral reservoirs — dormant cells responsible for the re-starting the infection in most HIV patients within weeks of halting the therapy has now been found to have been re-infected after more than 2 years without ART support.

The kid has detectable HIV levels in the blood (16,750 copies/mL). Besides, the child has reduced levels of CD4+ T-cells, the main constituent of a normal immune system, and the presence of HIV antibodies — signs of a replicating pool of virus in the body. The kid has been put on ART again. It has been found that the child’s HIV infection was the same strain acquired from the mother. ​

HIV first emerged over 30 years ago and has till now infected over 34 million people globally. Scientists face a daunting challenge of finding a vaccine against HIV. As per the UN estimates, 330,000 babies were infected in 2011. This is apart from more than 3 million children living with HIV across the globe.

In India, over 14,000 children got infected in 2011, which accounted for 13% decrease as compared to 2009. The number of estimated deaths among children (0-14 years old) due to AIDS was 10,213 in 2011. In India, in 2011, an estimated 21 lakh people living with HIV/AIDS, 7% were children. Nearly 40% (8.16 lakh) of them were women, who are likely to pass on the virus to their babies.

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Health Ministry focuses on Kala Azar eradication

Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, has set up a core group to sketch a detailed plan of action to wipe out the vector-borne disease Kala Azar by 2015.

In 2004, the government had set a target for eradicating the disease, by 2008. Since then, it has been revised twice to 2010 and finally to 2015. The new governments Health Minister has reviewed the resources at his command and expressed confidence in achieving the target.

Kala Azar, also known as Visceral Leishmaniasis, a zoonotic infection whose carrier is the sand fly found in the eastern UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, usually attacks during the monsoon season. It is the second deadliest vector borne disease after malaria. At present, the disease is prevalent in about 54 districts, with Bihar most affected. Around 90% of visceral leishmaniasis cases occur in 5 countries which include Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sudan and Brazil. 
The treatment of this disease is also challenging as patients have developed resistance to Sodium Stibogluconate, a 1920s drug developed through the research of the late Dr U.N. Brahmachari. Now three other drugs are being administered but they lack strong empirical evidence on their success. One of them is generally used for chemotherapy of breast cancer and has grave side-effects.

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