Doctors and researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center have reported that a two and a half-year-old girl has been cured of HIV after having been born with the disease. They are saying it is the first time that a child has been treated and no longer has any signs of the virus.
The doctors hope that the discovery will lay the groundwork for a better understanding and greater knowledge of HIV, which causes AIDS. They believe the findings could also point to potential solutions in developing countries hit hard by the virus.
“I’m sort of holding my breath that this child’s virus doesn’t come back in the future,” Hannah Gay, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who treated the child, was quoted in a USA Today report as saying.
“I’m certainly very hopeful that it will produce studies that will show us a way to cure other babies in the future.”
While it is being seen as revolutionary, the doctors warn against reading too much into the “curing” of the girl. They say that because her own personal situation is unique, viewers should not immediately get their hopes up.
They said it won’t lead “immediately” to a cure for the 34 million people living with HIV globally.
The reason is that the baby contracted HIV at birth, says study co-author Katherine Luzuriaga of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The mother tested positive for HIV when she arrived at the hospital to give birth, Gay said. The mother had not gone through any prenatal care, including anti-HIV therapy. The baby was born too quickly for doctors to begin any therapy before delivery, they said.