Doctors are reporting a 2½-year-old Mississippi girl has been cured of HIV.
According to USA Today, the little girl contracted the disease from her mother when she was born. The mom hadn’t had prenatal care or anti-HIV therapy prior to arriving at the hospital to give birth. The baby was born before any preventative measures could be taken.
“It’s rare today for babies to be born with HIV, says Anthony Fauci, a director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, which partly funded the study.
Doctors now routinely treat HIV-positive pregnant women with anti-retroviral medications and give preventive treatment to babies for the first six weeks of life, Luzuriaga says.”
Since they didn’t have an opportunity to treat the mother prior to the birth of the girl, they started treating the baby with anti-AIDS medications the day after she was born. Prior to this case, doctors believed HIV-positive babies needed to continue taking medication for life to prevent HIV from turning into AIDS.
After 18-months of treatment, the mother disappeared with her daughter. Doctors, worried about the seriousness of lack of treatment, enlisted the help of social services help to try and find them.
The mother and daughter were found after 10 months. When doctors tested the little girl, they expected to find high-levels of HIV.
Katherine Luzuriaga of the University of Massachusetts Medical School is co-author of the study detailing the baby’s unique case. Her data shows, after 10 months with no drug therapy, the little girl is completely HIV free.
Researchers say this could be a unique case without implications for other children carrying the HIV virus, but it provides hope that providing HIV drugs following the birth of babies in developing countries might limit the spread of the disease.
Hannah Gay, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who treated the girl told USA Today:
“They have done a lot of tests to see if there is something different about this child’s immune system or to see if there is something different about the virus itself. Her virus doesn’t seem to be any less virulent. We haven’t found anything about the host, this child, or in the mother.”
According to The Los Angeles Times, the first person Doctors consider to be cured of HIV is Timothy Brown. Brown received a bone barrow transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that blocks HIV from entering cells.
Only three adults have been cured of HIV and this little Mississippi girl is the first child.