Remember the Mississippi Baby who was cured of HIV when she was given aggressive drug treatment just after her birth? Federal health officials are now saying that the baby is showing signs of infection with HIV virus. The news is a very serious setback in the quest for a viable cure for the scourge of 21st century.
Earlier in March 2013 there were reports that a child who was given aggressive treatment regimen immediately after birth was completely cured leading to the speculation that aggressive treatment could reverse the infections in new born and possibly newly infected adults also. According to WHO figures in 2012 2.3 million people were newly infected by HIV and in 2013, 260,000 infants were infected with HIV immediately after birth.
Thursday’s release by Health officials is very disheartening and also exposed a need to further study and research on the HIV virus. Dr. Hannah B. Gay, the pediatrician at the University Of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, the doctor who put the new born infant who was infected by HIV at birth on huge doses of antiretroviral drugs describe the latest developments like a punch in the gut.
Earlier the Mississippi Baby phenomenon had led to Doctors to plan a worldwide clinical trial which would have envisages 450 babies who were born like the Mississippi Baby on an aggressive three drug regimen called triple drug therapy. Doctors had planned to keep these babies on a three drug regimen for 48 weeks and then stop giving the drugs to see if the babies were cured and tested negative for HIV. The latest development will force researchers to once again go back and give another look at the trial’s design.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, a leading AIDS expert who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, “We’ve got to go back and look at the trial’s design. It’s obviously disappointing, but I was not surprised. I’ve been chasing these reservoirs for the last 25 years, and I know this virus has a really uncanny way of hiding itself.”