In the US, medical Doctors from the state of Mississippi announced over the weekend that a baby had been cured of an HIV infection for the first time.
According to medical reports, the baby was treated aggressively with antiretroviral drugs starting around 30 hours after birth, something that is not usually done. If further study shows this works in other babies, it will almost certainly be recommended globally. The United Nations estimates that 330,000 babies were newly infected in 2011 and that more than three million children globally are living with H.I.V.
Once the report is confirmed, the Mississippi baby would be only the second well-documented case of an HIV cure in the world. The first person cured was Timothy Brown, known as the Berlin patient, a middle-aged man with leukemia who received a bone-marrow transplant from a donor genetically resistant to HIV infection. The transplant cured him of his own HIV infection.
The Mississippi baby report could give AIDS cure research a boost although some experts said the findings in the baby would probably not be relevant to adults.
“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 H.I.V. infection if we can replicate this case.”
Dr. Persaud and other researchers spoke in advance of a presentation of the findings on Monday at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta. The results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Some outside experts, who have not yet heard all the details, said they needed convincing that the baby had truly been infected. If not, this would be a case of prevention, something already done for babies born to infected mothers.