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Toddler “Functionally Cured” of HIV Infection

Pediatric HIV specialist Dr. Hannah Gay

Pediatric HIV specialist Dr. Hannah Gay of the University of Mississippi Medical Center led a team of laboratory investigators who provided HIV antiretroviral therapy for 18 months to a baby girl born with HIV infection.
Photo: Jay Ferchaud, University of Mississippi Medical Center

In the first well-documented case of its kind, a two-year-old girl appears to have been “functionally cured” of the HIV infection she was born with.

The little girl was born prematurely in 2010 to an HIV-infected mother. Under the medical care of Hannah Gay, M.D., a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, the girl received intensive antiretroviral therapy for the first 18 months of her life, but then treatment was discontinued for unknown reasons. When she finally was examined again, in the fall of 2012, blood samples revealed undetectable HIV levels and no HIV-specific antibodies. However, using ultrasensitive tests, the researchers did find extremely low viral levels.

"With this case, it appears we may have not only a positive outcome for the particular child, but also a promising lead for additional research toward curing other children," says National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

The landmark discovery was made by two pediatric HIV experts, Deborah Persaud, M.D., associate professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, and Katherine Luzuriaga, M.D., professor of pediatrics and molecular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. They presented their findings at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), in March, in Atlanta.

Spring 2013 Issue: Volume 8 Number 1 Page 13