Health officials thought that they had cured an almost 4-year-old girl who had been born with HIV. But this week, doctors discovered detectable levels of the virus again.
The child, known only as “The Mississippi Baby,” had been off of anti-retroviral therapy for more than two years. Specialists broke the news about the HIV’s resurgence at a press conference yesterday.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases spoke at the briefing and explained:
"Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child's care and the HIV/AIDS research community. This reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body.”
The young girl is now back on anti-HIV meds and is said to be responding well. Doctors hope to learn more from this case about whether a patient can ever be taken off of anti-HIV drugs.
Deborah Persaud, a professor at John Hopkins Children's Center, also discussed what an unbelievable achievement it was to keep this little girl off of meds for so long, saying:
"The fact that this child was able to remain off anti-retroviral treatment for two years and maintain quiescent virus for that length of time is unprecedented.”
While having a child born with HIV is extremely rare in the United States, the Mississippi Baby’s mother tested positive for HIV when she arrived at the hospital to give birth. The mother had no prenatal care and the baby was born too quickly for doctors to begin any therapy before birth.
We are holding onto hope that his little girl can remain healthy!
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