Providing immediate antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to infants with HIV can rapidly shrink the size of their reservoir of latently infected (unreplicating) cells, aidsmap reports.

Researchers treated HIV in five infants at a children’s hospital in South Africa within eight days of birth. They presented their findings about the changes in the newborns’ HIV viral loads and levels of viral DNA in cells (an indication of the size of the viral reservoir) at the 2017 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle.

In three of the infants, their viral load fell to less than 100 within 3.3 months; in the other two infants, the viral load dropped below 100 after a respective 6.3 and 6.7 months.

All five infants experienced a rapid decline in HIV DNA during the first 15 days of treatment. After that point, viral DNA levels declined more gradually. For each month on treatment, the infants’ viral DNA levels dropped by about 200-fold. Such an overall rate of decline represented a faster dissipation of the viral reservoir than is typically seen in adults. Additionally, the rate of decline seen after the initial 15-day period was steeper than is seen in infants started on ARVs more than eight days following birth.

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To read the conference abstract, click here.

To view a webcast of the conference presentation, click here.