Baby cured of AIDS virus
A baby born with the AIDS virus appears to have been cured.
The 2 & 1/2 year-old has been off medication for about a year with no signs of infection.
Specialists made the announcement at a major AIDS meeting in Atlanta.
The child's mother showed up to an ER in rural Mississippi in advanced labour. She'd received no prenatal care. A rapid test detected HIV.
In such cases, doctors typically give newborns low-dose meds to prevent HIV from taking root. But the small hospital didn't have the proper liquid kind, and sent the infant to a paediatric HIV specialist.
Dr. Hannah Gay started a higher dose, 3-drug infusion within 30 hours of the child's birth. That was before tests confirmed the infant was infected & not just at risk from a mother whose HIV wasn't diagnosed until she was in labour.
The child responded well to drugs through age 18 months, when the family temporarily quit treatment.
When they came back months later, Gay's standard tests detected no virus in the child's blood.
10 months after treatment stopped, a battery of super-sensitive tests at half a dozen labs found no sign of the virus' return. There were only some remnants of genetic material that don't appear able to replicate.
The child is being checked for the virus every few months.
There's no guarantee the baby will stay healthy. If it does, it would mark only the world's 2nd reported cure.
Specialists say the Mississippi case offers promising clues for efforts to eliminate HIV infection in children, especially in AIDS-plagued African countries where too many babies are born with the virus.
About 300,000 children were born with HIV in 2011, mostly in poor countries where only about 60% of infected pregnant women get treatment that can keep them from passing the virus to their babies.
"You could call this about as close to a cure, if not a cure, that we've seen,'' Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, told The Associated Press.
Doctors stress that no one should stop anti-AIDS drugs because of this case.
(With files from The Associated Press)