HIV cure: The United Nations hailed the case of a baby being cured of HIV in Mississippi as a historic development, but said more studies and tests need to be done.
Researchers said that a Mississippi-born baby was “functionally cured” of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, which the United Nations hailed as a “great hope” for the millions of children born with the virus around the world. However, one U.N. official said there needs to be more studies on the matter to see if the same results could be replicated.
It is the first documented case of a child being cured of the virus. Researchers with the University of Mississippi said they gave the 2-year-old baby, which was diagnosed from birth with HIV, treatment about 30 hours after it was born. They said the child has been off medication for around a year.
“This news gives us great hope that a cure for HIV in children is possible and could bring us one step closer to an AIDS-free generation,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe in a statement. “This also underscores the need for research and innovation especially in the area of early diagnostics.”
It was only the second documented case of a person being cured of HIV in history.
In 2011, the U.N. estimates that around 330,000 children were newly infected with HIV. But by the end of the year, only 28 percent of children under the age of 15 were getting HIV treatment, compared with 54 percent of eligible adults living with the virus.
Figures show that only around 28 percent of HIV-exposed babies were tested for HIV within six weeks of their birth in 2010, the U.N. said.
Sidibe’s office noted that while the case is a landmark one, it said that more studies need to be carried out to understand the outcomes better or if the current findings can be duplicated.
Dr. Hannah Gay, an HIV specialist with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, told CNN that timing might be key.
“We are hoping that future studies will show that very early institution of effective therapy will result in this same outcome consistently,” she told the network.
Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, with the University of Massachusetts, who worked with Gay, said the case was the very first they have “conclusively been able to document that the baby was infected and then after a period of treatment has been able to go off treatment without viral rebound.”
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.