Mississippi Child Thought Cured Of HIV Shows Signs Of Infection
by Richard Harris/NPR
A baby who generated great excitement last year because it appeared she had been cured of HIV is infected with the virus after all, health officials say.
This discovery is a setback for the child known as the “Mississippi baby.” It also complicates efforts to test what had seemed like a promising new treatment for infants born with HIV.
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The Mississippi baby was born to an HIV-positive mother in 2012. The mother had not received prenatal care, so wasn’t identified as being positive for HIV until she was in labor. To stop the baby’s infection, doctors tried an aggressive combination of drugs right after she was born.
HIV-positive babies rest in an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Treatment right after birth may make it possible for HIV-positive newborns to fight off the virus.
Normally HIV-infected infants would stay on the antivirals for life. But in this case, the mother stopped bringing the child to the clinic after 18 months. When the two showed up again, five months later, the mother said she had long since stopped giving the baby medicine. But blood tests showed no signs of HIV infection.
Thousands of babies are born to infected mothers every year, mostly in poor countries, and it would be wonderful if a strong dose of medicine at the time of birth could eradicate the virus from their bodies.
The news from Mississippi generated a lot of optimism. But Dr. Hannah Gay, who had treated the baby at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, remained on the lookout for HIV infection.
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