A 3-year-old Mississippi girl who was born with the AIDS virus after contracting HIV in utero remains in remission even after stopping AIDS medications 18 months ago, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report stops short of claiming the girl is "cured" of the disease, but does refer to the situation as a medical first, and a "clear remission." More from The Associated Press:
"We want to be very cautious here. We're calling it remission because we'd like to observe the child for a longer time and be absolutely sure there's no rebound," said Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, a University of Massachusetts AIDS expert involved in the baby's care.
The government's top AIDS scientist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed.
"At minimum, the baby is in a clear remission. It is possible that the baby has actually been cured. We don't have a definition for cure as we do for certain cancers, where after five years or so you can be relatively certain the person is not going to go and relapse," he said. A scientist at his institute did sophisticated tests that showed no active virus in the child.
A government-sponsored international study starting in January aims to test early treatment in babies born with HIV to see if the results in this case can be reproduced.
Most HIV-infected moms in the U.S. get AIDS medicines during pregnancy, which greatly cuts the chances they will pass the virus to their babies. But the Mississippi mom got no prenatal care and her HIV was discovered during labor. Doctors considered the baby to be at such high risk that they started the child on three powerful medicines 30 hours after birth, rather than waiting for a test to confirm infection as is usually done.
Within a month, the baby's virus fell to undetectable levels. She remained on treatment until she was 18 months old when doctors lost contact with her. Ten months later when she returned, they could find no sign of infection even though the mom had stopped giving the child AIDS medicines.