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Dr. Bitnun is an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He is also a staff physician and academic clinician in infectious diseases at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
Dr. Bitnun obtained a Doctor in Medicine from the University of British Columbia, and a certificate in pediatrics from the Israel Medical Association. He then completed a master’s degree at the University of Toronto.
His research interests are in prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, pediatric HIV, complications of antiretroviral therapy, and infections of the central nervous system. He aims to expand his research on infections of the central nervous system and focus on the etiology and pathogenesis of acute childhood encephalitis.
Dr. Bitnun is a site investigator for CTN 281: EPIC 4 Cohort Study, which is testing the effectiveness of early treatment with combined anti-retroviral therapy in cases of HIV transmission from mother to child. The study aims to determine whether treatment can result in a state of HIV suppression that can be controlled without further drug use: a functional cure.
“When you start treatment very early in a baby that’s infected you can probably reduce the amount of virus in their blood, or in their body as a whole, significantly,” said Dr. Bitnun at a 2014 conference held by the Canadian Association for HIV Research.
This study was triggered by recent cases, like the “Mississippi baby”, which suggest that an aggressive, early combined antiretroviral therapy can result in HIV suppression and possibly even remission.