Researchers at a major AIDS conference in Atlanta announced today that a 2½ year child in Mississippi born with HIV has been cured of the virus after taking an aggressive regimen of drugs since birth. The child, whose mother had stopped giving her medication, is the second confirmed case of a human being cured of HIV, after a man was cured in 2010 when he received a bone marrow transplant.
Researchers are cautiously optimistic about the development, which might profoundly alter the way HIV is treated in newborns, especially among middle and lower-income communities. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told the Associated Press, "You could call this about as close to a cure, if not a cure, that we've seen."
The child was given an unusually strong treatment for the child, even before tests could confirm the child did in fact have HIV. Scientists believe that the strength of the treatment "knocked out HIV in the baby's blood before it could form hideouts in the body."
The child, who was initially treated at a rural hospital, was given the stronger medication only because the hospital did not carry the proper treatment for infants. The mother of the child was only found to be HIV-positive during labor.
While the number of American newborns with HIV is now fewer than 200, between 300,000 and 400,000 children are born with
AIDS HIV every year, 90% in sub-Saharan Africa.
While researchers caution that they have a long way to go before recommending the treatment for all HIV-positive newborns, Dr. Fauci expressed optimism about the findings,"It opens up a lot of doors."