After two years without therapy, a Mississippi baby thought to have been cured of HIV has the virus again, a setback in what researchers had hoped was a way to cure infants born with HIV.
The child, born to an HIV-infected mother, is now nearly 4 years old. She was found to have detectable HIV levels in her blood during a routine clinical care visit earlier this month, according to a statement by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bloomberg News reported.
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Doctors had unintentionally stopped giving anti-retroviral treatments to the child at 18 months. When care resumed five months later, medical staff couldn’t detect the virus and the speculation was that she was free of the illness.
“Obviously, as an individual patient it’s disappointing,” said Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, in a telephone interview. “But we’re learning very important things. Our capability of detection isn’t good enough. This reservoir is extraordinary, and we need to get better tools to measure it accurately.”
The child appeared well during a visit last month, and was only found to have the virus after blood tests, Fauci said. The levels of HIV in the blood were “not high, but not trivial,” he said, adding, it is “clear and unambigous” that HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, had rebounded.
Besides the Mississippi baby, a child born in Los Angeles County was found to have no trace of the virus nine months after starting anti-HIV treatment four hours after birth. The Los Angeles baby cannot be said to have been cured, said Fauci, because its treatment was never stopped.
The Mississippi child has resumed therapy and is doing well with no side effects, Fauci said.
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