An infant born HIV positive in rural Mississippi has been cured of the virus, according to a new report. If the study results hold up to scrutiny from the medical community, this could be a most significant AIDS breakthrough, particularly for babies infected with the virus.
According to The New York Times, which ran a story about the study in advance of it being presented at a medical conference today, the infant (whose name, race and sex were not identified) was born prematurely to a mother who received no prenatal care, and who did not know she was HIV positive. Within 30 hours of birth, the child, who tested positive for HIV, was treated with a strong course of antiretroviral drugs. This continued for the first 18 months of the child’s life, by which point virus levels were undetectable. The child, now 2½, still shows no signs of the virus.
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Though some within the medical community are expressing hopeful skepticism until further studies can be carried out, others are already hailing this as a great leap forward in the fight against AIDS, particularly as it affects babies and children. The U.N. estimates that globally in 2011, 330,000 babies were born infected with HIV. Worldwide, there are 3 million children living with the virus, many with inadequate access to medicine and treatment.
While this study is potentially excellent news for infants and children living with AIDS, it also gives hope to the possibility of a cure for all affected communities, something that has been considered unattainable until now.