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HIV/AIDS Prevention Advocates Cautiously Optimistic About Cure

By Daniel Cherry | Published 04 Mar 2013 06:57pm | comments
Valencia Robinson reminds residents this is not an absolute cure for HIV/AIDS.
HIV and AIDS prevention advocates in Mississippi are cautiously optimistic about what is being celebrated as a possible cure for HIV in children. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports...
 
Mississippi has been in the headlines since news broke about doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center curing a child born with HIV. Valencia Robinson is Executive Director of Mississippi in Action, an HIV prevention non-profit. She's quick to point out, this is one case in an infant, and is not an end-all cure for HIV.
 
"I received a phone call yesterday, 'I don't have to wear condoms any more.' So you do have to wear condoms. The messages we're putting out here around education and prevention, they're still going to be the same, but I see now that we're really going to have to enforce them more than we have been."
 
About 300 thousand children were born HIV positive worldwide in 2011...mostly in poor countries. Dr. Hannah Gay is the Pediatric HIV Specialist at UMC who treated the child who was cured. While HIV transmission at birth in Mississippi is extremely rare, Gay says this could be a huge step in fighting HIV worldwide.
 
"If it turns out, in fact, we can replicate this outcome in other babies then it's a very big deal because we have developed a cure for infants who are infected at birth."
 
The infant has been functionally cured, which means the virus isn't eradicated, but it has been suppressed and is not spreading, even without continued treatments. While Valencia Robinson isn't completely sold just yet, she is glad to see steps in the right direction.
 
"Who knows? Thirty years from now, it may be totally eradicated. So yes I'm optimistic it happened in Mississippi and there could be a possible cure, but I'm also skeptical because I need people to understand this is not the end-all right now."
 
Researchers say more tests and further investigation is needed before anyone can be sure if this is a proven cure for infants born with HIV. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.

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Valencia Robinson reminds residents this is not an absolute cure for HIV/AIDS.


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