Scientists Announce First Ever Cure of HIV in a Child
Scientists have just announced a major breakthrough, as a little girl born with HIV has apparently been cured of the disease. This makes her the first child and the second person in the world to be cured of the virus since its inception 32 years ago.
The 2 1/2 year old girl from Mississippi has been off medication for a year with no sign of recurrence. The girl’s doctor had immediately started her off with an aggressive treatment within 30 hours of birth, after the mom was diagnosed with HIV.
“I just felt like this baby was at higher-than-normal risk, and deserved our best shot,” explained Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi.
Months after her birth, the mother stopped bringing the child in for check-ups.
“The baby’s mom was having some life changes, that’s about all I can say,” Gay stated. “I saw her at 18 months, and then after that did not see her for several months. And we were unable to locate her for a while.”
After finally locating the pair, the mother further revealed that she stopped administering the antiviral drugs to her child six or seven months prior. Gay and her team were appalled and ready to treat a child whose HIV had been uncontrolled for months. To their surprise, tests showed that the toddler’s blood was clean.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh, my goodness, I’ve been treating a child who’s not actually infected,’” Gay recalled, after numerous tests came up with the same conclusion. “When all those came back negative, I knew something odd was afoot.”
Further tests in the next few months prove that while there are still minimal traces of the virus in her system, there was no evidence that the virus was replicating, making the girl “functionally cured” of the disease. They concluded that the original quick treatment given to the child after birth was able to control the HIV virus, prior to it creating small pockets of dormant cells which would then cause a constant recurrence of the disease.
Following last week’s big announcement, the public has been abuzz over the case’s major medical implications. Some believe that the aggressive treatment on high-risk infants may provide the key to minimizing mother-to-child infections of the virus.
“You could call this about as close to a cure, if not a cure, that we’ve seen,” explained Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Health.
“If this approach is proven effective, we could dramatically change the way children born with HIV are treated,” Kevin Robert Frost from the Foundation for AIDS Research added.