A 3-year-old girl from Mississippi born with HIV has reportedly been free of the virus for 18 months. After being diagnosed with the disease, which she acquired from her mother, the baby was put on a course of antiviral pills and eventually taken off the medication. This is the first case where a baby has been taken off antiviral drugs and tested free of the virus for an extended period of time.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the successful case may open the door for researchers around the world to treat other newborns in the exact same manner.
So far, the baby is only the second human being in history that has been able to kick the disease. Five years ago, American Timothy Ray Brown, 47, was cured after a bone marrow transplant he received in Berlin.
Researchers, including Dr. Katherine Lazuriaga of University of Massachusetts, were initially concerned the toddler didn’t have the full disease but was carrying a free-floating virus or infected blood cells passed one from her mother. This would have meant the research project would have been null and void. However, doctors closely connected with the case are certain the child did carry the full virus and was cured after treatment.
NPR reports that some experts are weary of assuming the same course of treatment will work for all babies infected with HIV. For example, Dr. Scott Hammer of Columbia University worries that not all children will have the same success when taken off of medication.
In the case of the Mississippi baby, she was provided drugs within 30 hours of her birth. Researchers involved admit that this may be one of the most important factors that have lead to the cure.
Before any major actions will be taken worldwide to use the same approach for other babies, the Mississippi baby will be tested further. Additionally, researchers from around the world will meet in San Francisco to discuss new solutions for the HIV epidemic in both children and adults.
The following is a news report from earlier in the year on the story at hand: