Doctors say they have cured HIV-positive baby through early treatment

Doctors in Mississippi say they have cured a baby girl who was born HIV positive by giving her treatment with antiretroviral drugs within 30 hours after her birth.

The baby that doctors say was cured was born in July 2010 to a mother who tested HIV positive and had not had any prenatal HIV treatment. Because of this, doctors started anti-viral drugs right away. From Reuters:

Two blood tests done within the first 48 hours of the child’s life confirmed her infection and she was kept on the full treatment regimen… Researchers believe use of the more aggressive antiretroviral treatment when the child was just days old likely resulted in her cure by keeping the virus from forming hard-to-treat pools of cells known as viral reservoirs, which lie dormant and out of the reach of standard medications.

The child received regular treatments for 18 months and then her mother stopped her treatment for 10 months. When the child reappeared Dr. Hannah Gay, the pediatric HIV specialist who had been treating her, tested the child and found no traced of HIV. The child is now 2.5 years old.

While the cure is a milestone in the medical community, some scientists say they need to see more information. “The one uncertainty is really definitive evidence that the child was indeed infected,” Dr. Daniel R. Kuritzkes, chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told The New York Times.

If this cure turns out to be legitimate, it will mark the second-known case of someone being cured of HIV. Timothy Brown, who is also known as the Berlin patient, was cured of HIV after receiving a bone marrow transplant during leukemia treatments from a donor whose cells were genetically resistant to HIV.

Brown’s case was expensive, complicated, and could have killed him, while this more recent case is seen as something that could be widely used.