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Baby is Cured of HIV

This is big news: scientists reported that a Mississippi toddler born with HIV has been functionally cured of the infection, thanks to early use of antivirals.

Gay enlisted the help of Mississippi state health authorities to track down the child. When they found her, the mother said she had stopped giving the child antiviral drugs six or seven months earlier.

At that point, Gay expected to find that the child's blood was teeming with HIV. But to her astonishment, tests couldn't find any virus.

"My first thought was, 'Oh, my goodness, I've been treating a child who's not actually infected,' " Gay says. But a look at the earlier blood work confirmed the child had been infected with HIV at birth. So Gay then thought the lab must have made a mistake with the new blood samples. So she ran those tests again.

"When all those came back negative, I knew something odd was afoot," Gay says. She contacted an old friend, Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga at the University of Massachusetts, who has been studying pediatric HIV/AIDS for two decades.

That was last August. Since then, Luzuriaga's lab and labs in San Diego, Baltimore and Bethesda, Md., have run ultra-sensitive tests on the baby's blood.

A couple of tests have intermittently found pieces of HIV DNA and RNA, but no evidence that the virus is actively replicating in the child's cells.

Luzuriaga tells Shots this amounts to what's called a "functional cure."

Richard Knox of NPR's Shots has the story: Link


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