A child born with HIV has apparently been cured in Mississippi, scientists confirmed yesterday, marking only the second time in history a patient with this disease was able to fight it off entirely.
The announcement was made yesterday at an AIDS meeting in Atlanta, as Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said of the now-two-and-a-half-year old:
“You could call this about as close to a cure, if not a cure, that we’ve seen.”
Tests have determined that mere traces of the virus’ genetic material are lingering.
Treatment was given to the baby within 30 hours of birth, at a time where doctors were only aware he was at risk because his mother was diagnosed as HIV positive during labor.
Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi, was responsible for the treatment, acting so quickly because she said she “felt like this baby was at higher-than-normal risk.”
The first person cured of HIV was Timothy Brown, known as the “Berlin patient.” That middle-aged man also had leukemia and received a bone-marrow transplant from a donor genetically resistant to HIV infection.
“For pediatrics, this is our Timothy Brown,” said Dr. Deborah Persaud, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and lead author of the report on the baby. “It’s proof of principle that we can cure HIV infection if we can replicate this case.”