The news that a child in Mississippi has apparently been cured of HIV infection has generated widespread interest and cautious optimism among AIDS researchers. The child—born to an untreated HIV-positive mother—was started on an aggressive combination of anti-AIDS drugs just 30 hours after birth. After about 18 months, the mother stopped giving the child the anti-AIDS drugs, but when the child was examined five months later, no functioning virus was found.
If the results hold up to scrutiny, it’s significant, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) professor of the practice of public health Richard Marlink told Voice of America on March 4, 2013.
“It’s a big deal to show that, if we really hit the virus hard right at birth, perhaps, for those babies that might be getting infected at that early time in their life, we may be able to eliminate the virus from their system,” said Marlink, executive director of the HSPH AIDS Initiative. He said the impact could be especially great in sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the roughly 300,000 children born with HIV each year live. Not only could the treatment save lives, he said, but “we wouldn’t have to be treating them the rest of their life.”