Le devenir des enfants infectés et des enfants affectés par le VIH

 

Fatima Kakkar

Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier universitaire Ste-Justine

 

Domaine : maladies infectieuses et immunitaires

Programme chercheurs-boursiers cliniciens - Junior 1

Concours 2016-2017

Worldwide, there are currently 2.6 million children living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  While we have excellent medications to treat the disease, at the moment there is no cure. Once treatment is started, it must be continued for life.  However, researchers recently reported on two cases of children born with HIV, both of whom started treatment immediately after birth,  stopped after a few years, and were able to control their virus without medication..  We believe that this is because their treatment was started very early rather than later in life, which is what is currently recommended. By studying their immune system, we may understand how to cure the disease in others.  Here in Canada, many pediatricians have chosen to start treatment early and as a result we have a number of HIV infected children, similar these two cases, who have started treatment very early. Working with other researchers in Canada, I will be studying whether this type of very early treatment is beneficial to children, and how this may lead to cure of the disease.

Prevention however is better that cure. Every year, at least 220 000 new children are infected with HIV.  Most children get HIV from their mother; if a woman is HIV infected and is not treated, there is a 30% chance that she will transmit the virus to her newborn.  To reduce this chance, medications are given to HIV infected pregnant women during pregnancy.  While these medications are necessary to prevent transmission, they can have long-term side effects.  The second part of my research program is to study the effects of in utero exposure to these medications on infants, in order to determine which treatments are the least harmful and most effective in preventing HIV in children.