In March 2013, amazing news from Mississippi quickly spread across the world: a baby seemed to have been cured of HIV. The infant, born prematurely to an HIV-infected mom who had sought no treatment for her baby pre-birth, had been given an exceptionally aggressive course of anti-HIV drugs over her first 18 months of life, Reuters writes. The virus seemed to disappear from her system, and the girl--now four years old--seemed to have been cured of the disease.
Her latest check-up, however, brought devastating news. The virus has returned to her system. Doctors have put her onto anti-HIV drugs, Reuters continues, a prescription she'll likely have to take for the rest of her life.
The disappointment extends far beyond the Mississippi baby's individual case. As Reuters writes, around 250,000 HIV-positive babies are born each year, almost all in developing countries. The hope was that the Mississippi baby would be the first of many to be able to lead an HIV-free life despite being born with the virus. As a result of the news, researchers are reevaluating plans for a clinical trial that would recreate the Mississippi baby's treatment in 450 other newborns, says the New York Times.
Despite the blow, some researchers are trying to focus on the positive. As R.J. Simonds, vice president of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, said in a release:
Although we had high hopes that the child would remain HIV-free, this case represents important research that still provides a tremendous learning opportunity about how rapid, early treatment affects the body's response to HIV, especially in newborns, which eventually could lead to a cure.