Doctors announced Sunday March 3, 2013 that a baby from Miss. had been cured of an H.I.V. infection. This is the first time such a thing has occurred, a potentially fantastic development that could change not only how HIV-infected newborns are treated, but could also sharply reduce the number of children living with the virus that causes AIDS.
The Miss. baby’s treatment also gives some new hope for treatment of HIV-infected adults, though some experts have said the Miss. baby’s results would probably not translate for adults.
Born in rural Mississippi, the miracle baby was treated aggressively with antiretroviral drugs starting around 30 hours after birth, reported the New York Times, something not ordinarily done. If further studies show the protocol works in other babies, it will likely be recommended globally.
The Times wrote: “The United Nations estimates that 330,000 babies were newly infected in 2011, the most recent year for which there is data, and that more than three million children globally are living with H.I.V.”
If confirmed, the Mississippi baby would stand as the second documented case of an HIV cure in the world. Confirmation could boost research for a cure, which, just a few years ago, was thought by most to be likely impossible.
The first person cured was Berlin patient Timothy Brown, a middle-aged leukemia victim who received a bone-marrow transplant from a donor who was genetically resistant to the H.I.V. infection.
The Times reported that Dr. Deborah Persaud, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and lead author of the Miss. baby report, said, “For pediatrics, this is our Timothy Brown. It’s proof of principle that we can cure H.I.V. infection if we can replicate this case.”
Other outside experts who have not yet reviewed all the facts, needed yet to be convinced that the Miss. baby had been truly infected with AIDS, and had not merely been vaccinated by the treatment.