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HIV Returns To Mississippi Baby Once Thought ‘Cured’

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 10 Jul 2014 04:40pm | comments
HIV infected cell via National Institutes of Health

A Mississippi baby that was once thought functionally cured of HIV has again tested positive for the virus. As MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, doctors do not know how the virus evaded detection for two years before it re-emerged.

The news that a Mississippi baby had potentially been cured of HIV by a doctor at The University of Mississippi Medical Center sent shock waves around the world when it was announced last year.

But now, doctors say the virus has returned.

During a press conference call, Dr. Tony Fauci with National Institute of infectious disease says the child, who is now nearly four years old, appeared to have been functionally cured by early, aggressive intervention.

"After 27 months of not receiving any retroviral therapy and at 46 months of age, the baby has rebounded with now clearly detectable HIV viremia," Fauci said.

UMC's Dr. Hannah Gay was credited with the break through treatment that many thought cured the child.

Gay calls the development a 'punch in the gut' but says it was always a possible outcome.

"From the scientific standpoint we had been very hopeful that this would lead to bigger and better things. but mainly for the sake of the child that is back on medicine and expected to stay on medicine for a long time," Gay said.

A puzzling aspect for doctors is that repeated tests over the last two years showed no signs of HIV infection.

Dr. Fauci says that raises new questions about how the virus could survive in what he calls 'reservoirs' while evading detection.

"There are certainly are many confounding issues that arise and will trigger intense discussion and further study. Particularly with regard to the concept of the persistence of a reservoir in the absence of the ability to detect it," Fauci said.

Other children have been treated using Dr. Gay's method including one in California who remains HIV free.

The researchers say they are hopeful that this is another step toward a long term cure for HIV.

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HIV infected cell via National Institutes of Health


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