Scientists Say Girl Born With HIV Has Been Cured, Call It “A Game-Changer”

hiv t cellAt a conference in Atlanta, researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center reported that they had successfully cured a young girl born with HIV.

Pregnant women with HIV are given antiviral drugs which can increase the odds that they deliver a HIV-negative baby. But the mother of the unnamed infant, now 2, didn’t receive any prenatal care.

Normally that would mean a lifetime of  antiviral drugs for the girl, but pediatric infectious-disease specialist Hannah Gay tried something different:

Gay decided to begin treating the child immediately, with the first dose of antivirals given within 31 hours of birth. That’s faster than most infants born with HIV get treated, and specialists think it’s one important factor in the child’s cure.

In addition, Gay gave higher-than-usual, “therapeutic” doses of three powerful HIV drugs rather than the “prophylactic” doses usually given in these circumstances.

Over the months, the baby thrived and standard tests could detect no virus in her blood, which is the normal result from antiviral treatment.

Gay never intended to take her off the medications, but the mother stopped bringing her in for checkups. “I saw her at 18 months, and then after that did not see her for several months,” Gay tells NPR. “And we were unable to locate her for a while.”

Health authorities helped find the girl, whose mother had stopped giving her the medication seven months prior. Amazingly, when the toddler was tested she came back HIV-negative.

Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, who was called in to help confirm the results, calls this a functional cure—”the control of viral replication and lack of rebound once they come off anti-retroviral medications.”

While there’s a lot of work to still be done before the treatment can be applied to the 330,00o children born HIV-positive every year, the cure is “definitely a game-changer,” says Johns Hopkins University’s Dr. Deborah Persaud, who presented the findings at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections this weekend. “This case is sort of the inspiration and provides the rationale to really move forward.”

Photo: NIAID

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  • Cam

    “”Gay never intended to take her off the medications, but the mother stopped bringing her in for checkups…….Health authorities helped find the girl, whose mother had stopped giving her the medication seven months prior.”

    Just curious, is the child still with the mother. That seems a clear case of endangering the welfare of a child.

  • Mr. Enemabag Jones


    whose mother had stopped giving her the medication seven months prior

    What a fucking bitch.


    That seems a clear case of endangering the welfare of a child.

    Agreed. The kid is HIV neg, but guaranteed something else will happen to her while in her mother’s care.

  • Red Meat

    what? The doctor is actually doctor Gay, I can’t.

  • JDJase

    @Red Meat: Yeah, I used to laugh at things like that…in 3rd grade


    Although the mother did endanger the child by not giving the baby its medication, perhaps some good will come out of it in the form of progress towards a cure for AIDS.

  • miniskull

    @Mr. Enemabag Jones: Is this possible that the child may be taken away from her mother b/c of her HIV status and her negligence to give her baby the medicine?

  • Red Meat

    @JDJase: psh I am in 5th grade and we still find it HIGHlarious.

  • LadyL

    On its face this sounds like a stupid (and/or very poor and ill-educated) mom who got stupendously lucky, or rather her child did. Let’s hope the luck holds for both.

  • hyhybt

    From yesterday’s Daily Beast Cheat Sheet: “The only remaining question about this baby: whether the child was actually infected with HIV.”

  • Spike

    Not a surprise this would happen when there is no current Pope. Go without the Pope for a month or so and they will be announcing that they have found the cure for cancer and have eliminated world hunger and poverty.

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