While pediatric AIDS researchers were surprised, and while they reiterate the need for the procedure to be repeated, they said it makes sense that the treatment worked. Persaud offered one hypothesis that she and Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, an immunologist at the University of Massachusetts, plan on testing in clinical trials in the next few months: The HIV virus usually establishes itself in reservoirs where it stays in a dormant state.
"One can imagine if you can halt virus replication very quickly in an infant through the use of very early antiviral therapy," Persaud said, "that what we've accomplished with this is that the reservoirs are not given the opportunity to be established.
Researchers suspect that those viral reservoirs might be different in children than in adults, Luzuriaga added.
"If we start early, we appear to be able to control viral replication extra tightly and we end up with lower amounts of the viral reservoir," Luzuriaga said.
Early detection and treatment of diseases is something Dr. Josh Petrikin is familiar with as a neonatologist at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.