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Infant cured of HIV still virus-free at three years old

Posted: October 24, 2013 |   Comments

( When an expecting mother is HIV-positive, doctors normally put the pregnant woman on two antiretroviral medications in order to avoid having the virus be transmitted to their unborn children. However, in one case from Mississippi, doctors were unaware of the mother's HIV infection until after she gave birth to a little girl, who was thus born with the virus.

The little girl's pediatrician, Dr. Hannah Gay, hence launched HIV treatment almost immediately, just 30 hours after she was born. Gay also decided to use a combination of three antiretroviral drugs, all at doses commonly used to treat HIV-infected infants. Repeated tests showed that the treatment lowered the levels of HIV in the infant's blood until, at 29 days, it reached undetectable levels. Treatment continued over until the girl was 18 months old, at which point doctors lost track of her and treatment ceased.

It was not until 10 months later that the doctors next saw the child. Repeated standard HIV tests were performed on the child, none of which detected the virus in her blood. The child is now three tears old and still appears to be cured; however, according to, "A couple of tests have found very low-level indications of HIV in the girl's blood, but doctors cannot tell if they are false positives or simply remnants of the eradicated virus." Because of this, researchers say that the girl is in remission rather than cured.

The two important factors that led to the newborn's successful treatment appear to have been the combination of drugs used and the timing with which treatment began. This case could help improve treatment for other infants born with HIV, but is unlikely to help adults who acquire the virus, since they usually don't become aware of it until much later. As reported by, "Based on this girl's case, a federally funded study set to begin in early 2014 will test the early treatment method to determine whether the approach could be used in all HIV-infected newborns."

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