Doctors: Baby Cured of HIV for First Time

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 3 2013 7:27 PM

Doctors: Baby Cured of HIV for First Time

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Researchers say five tests confirmed the baby was infected with HIV

Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images

A baby has apparently been cured of HIV for the first time, researchers announced Sunday, a breakthrough that could have a profound impact on how babies who are born infected with the virus that causes AIDS are treated. The baby, who is now two-and-a-half, has now been off medication for around a year and there are no signs of infection, reports the Associated Press. If the baby remains healthy it would mark the second reported case of an HIV cure in the world. (The first was a middle-aged man in Berlin with leukemia who received a bone-marrow transplant.) "You could call this about as close to a cure, if not a cure, that we've seen," Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health tells the AP.

The baby born in rural Mississippi was given a three-drug antiretroviral regimen around 30 hours after birth, an unusually aggressive course of treatment. The New York Times talks to outside experts who caution they’re not really convinced yet that the baby was infected and this wasn’t a case of prevention, which is already commonplace in babies born to HIV-infected mothers. Yet resarchers insist they are certain the baby was infected, noting the baby had five positive tests within the first month of life.

This was a rare case because the mother didn’t know she was infected and had not seen a doctor throughout her pregnancy, notes CNN. These types of mother-to-baby infection are rare in the United States because the mothers are typically treated during pregnancy. But in developing countries, particularly in Africa, these types of treatments are rare, making this a potentially game-changing finding. And, unlike the Berlin case, the results could actually help develop a new standard of treatment, notes the Times.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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