A baby who was thought to have been cured of HIV was recently found with detectable levels of the virus in her blood.
"Mississippi Baby" was reported to be "functionally cured" of the HIV virus last March under a very unusual set of circumstances. Having been born with HIV, the baby was treated with anti-AIDS therapy soon after birth. Eighteen months later the baby and her mother disappeared, missing several doctor's appointments.
When they were finally tracked down, doctors were surprised to find that after five months without any anti-AIDS medication, the baby's virus levels were undetectable.
Now, after two more than years without antiretroviral therapy, detectable levels of the virus have returned to the baby's system.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases, said that the case of "Mississippi Baby" gave scientists hope for a cure.
Fauci said last year that the child's case loaned support to something scientists have long believed: that a cure is possible "if you can get somebody treated before the reservoir of virus forms in the body, and before the immune system has been damaged by months or years of viral replication."
The baby is back on anti-HIV medications and responding well. As with most people with HIV, the child is expected to be be on the medication "for a long time"
It is a setback that doctors knew to expect but is obviously still disappointing.
But the development "reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body," Fauci said in a statement. "The NIH remains committed to moving forward with research on a cure for HIV infection."
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