Compiled by Sarah Lennox
With files from Sarah Rix
A Mississippi toddler has been “functionally cured” of HIV infection, according to a press release from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
This means the two and a half-year-old girl is in long-term viral remission without a need for lifelong treatment. Standard HIV tests were unable to detect the virus.
The child was given antiretroviral therapy within 30 hours of her birth, a more aggressive treatment than typically used, according to a CBC article.
The treatment was stopped 10 months ago and consistent checkups have shown no reappearance of the virus.
The fast treatment stopped the HIV from forming hideouts in the girl’s body. The “so-called reservoirs of dormant cells” often quickly re-infect those who stop the medication, Dr. Deborah Persaud of John Hopkins Children’s Center told the Associated Press.
Dr. Persaud led the investigation.
The CBC article also said the girl’s mother received no prenatal care and only discovered she was HIV-positive shortly before delivery.
Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi told the Associated Press that she thought the baby was at a higher-than-normal risk of contracting the virus.
Monique Doolittle-Romas, chief executive officer of the Canadian AIDS Society, told Humber News’ Sarah Rix that the team responsible for the discovery did a great job developing a new treatment for HIV and AIDS.
“I think it’s a very exciting development for us in the area of prevention,” she said. “I’m extremely happy for this family and for the baby. It’s promising for the future when it comes to post exposure [and] prophylaxis research.”
ART has side effects, but Doolittle-Romas said all treatments do.
“I’m not going to second guess the physician’s judgment. I do know the treatment has secondary effects, but I’m sure that that was all weighed by the specialist and the family in the decision-making.”
The result of the discovery will lead to renewed interest, said Doolittle-Romas.
“…I think it will potentially lead to new treatment and one day, hopefully, a cure, which is what we’re all working towards,” she said. “We all want that cure.”
The CBC article said there’s no guarantee the girl will remain healthy as her body still contains traces of HIV.
A press release from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said further research needs to be completed before the experience can be replicated for other children.