Trending News Today: HIV-Positive Child in Remission for More than 8 Years Without Antiretrovirals

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

On Friday, New Jersey raised the smoking age to 21 years, according to the New York Times. Smoking causes approximately $4 billion in health care costs in the state each year, not including costs related to secondhand smoke and smokeless tobacco. Joseph Vitale (D-NJ), a cosponsor of Gov Chris Christie’s bill, said that data indicate that individuals who do not smoke by 21 years will most likely not start in their lives. “Making it harder to buy cigarettes by raising the age to legally purchase them in New Jersey will help prevent our youth from becoming lifelong smokers and suffering the long-term effects of the habit,” Vitale told the NY Times. New Jersey is the third state to raise the smoking age to 21, joining California and Hawaii.

Although inflammation can protect against injury and infection, chronic, low-level inflammation can cause the body harm. According to NPR, it remains unclear whether targeting inflammation through drugs or lifestyle interventions would reduce the risk of chronic diseases; however, healthy eating patterns can reduce inflammatory proteins in the blood, as well as lower high cholesterol and promote a healthy weight. Thomas Pearson, cardiovascular epidemiologist and executive vice president for research and education at the University of Florida Health Sciences Center, told NPR that the best way to reduce risk of health risks caused by inflammation is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “The best thing you can do to reduce inflammation is to stop smoking,” Pearson said, as reported by NPR. “People are always looking for a test and a pill. What we need is some good advice and the perseverance to work on our lifestyle.”

A South African child diagnosed with HIV at 1 month old has been in viral remission for more than 8 years without the help of regular antiretroviral treatments (ART). According to CNN, this is the first reported case of a child suppressing their HIV infection without ART in Africa and the third known case worldwide. The 9-year-old boy initially underwent ART for 40 weeks before stopping treatment. But in 2015, blood test results revealed that they boy had achieved HIV remission. Furthermore, subsequent testing of the child’s earlier blood tests confirmed that he had achieved remission shortly after ART was stopped. CNN reported that treatment was halted as part of a larger clinical trial examining the potential for early ART to decrease infant mortality and reduce lifelong treatments among HIV-positive newborns.