Most of us are already aware that HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus compromises the immune system and there has been no cure found by researchers and scientists until recently a news broke out that a Mississippi girl has been cured from HIV infection.
But this turned out to be a disappointment.
Federal officials announced Thursday that “Mississippi baby”, thought to have been cured of HIV was reported in The New England Journal of Medicine last fall,to have detectable levels of the virus.
The aggressive drug treatment has relapsed, with new tests showing detectable levels of the AIDS-causing virus in her bloodstream.
“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,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases, at the briefing.
The girl, now nearly 4 years old, stopped the consumption of medicine when she was 18 months old and had remained virus-free since then.
After the blood test the truth was revealed and an additional test discovered the girl’s decreased count of white blood cell and the presence of HIV antibodies, both of which are signs that the virus has rebounded.
“We are still very much in the early discovery phase of trying to achieve a sustained virological remission and perhaps even a cure. There is much, much more to learn and we remain committed to doing so,” Fauci said.
“What we’ve learned from this case is really quite amazing,” said Jeffrey Safrit, research chief at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. “They were able to suppress virus for a very long time without therapy. We need to take the positive aspects of this case and learn from them to move forward” with the federal study, he said.
“The fact that this child was able to remain off antiretroviral treatment for two years and maintain quiescent virus for that length of time is unprecedented,” said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a professor of infectious diseases at the John Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore and one of the two pediatric HIV experts involved in the ongoing analysis of the case. “Typically, when treatment is stopped, HIV levels rebound within weeks, not years.”
Fauci said Thursday that this early treatment “did not completely eliminate the reservoir of HIV-infected cells that was established upon infection, but may have considerably limited its development and averted the need for antiretroviral medication over a considerable period.”
“Now we must direct our attention to understanding why that is and determining whether the period of sustained remission in the absence of therapy can be prolonged even further,” he concluded.
In March, doctors told about a second baby born with HIV may have had her infection put into remission by very early treatment — in this case, four hours after her birth in suburban Los Angeles in April 2013. She had been cured completely now.
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