USA Today reports on Monday that doctors appear to have cured a two year old girl who was infected with HIV at birth. This could be the most amazing news in the medical community in a very long time.
This case is considered a “functional cure” which means that the presence of the virus is so small, lifelong treatment is not necessary and standard clinical tests cannot detect the virus in the blood.
Researchers are not completely jumping for joy as they have noted that it will likely take years before they’re able to extend that success to the masses and it’s possible that it may never happen.
An astounding 300,000 babies are born infected with HIV each year from all over the world. This case gives hope to a great number of people and finally offers a glimpse of progress towards a possible cure.
Doctors state that the key to this little Mississippi girl’s success was simply early treatment. Her mother was an untreated HIV positive mother. Like other babies born with the HIV, the physicians began treatment soon after delivery. In this case, she was treated within 30 hours of birth. She received eighteen months of triple-drug therapy so you can only imagine what this child has already been through.
A newborn baby has a better chance than an adult does with early treatment because adults typically don’t find out that they are infected for months or years according to Rana Chakraborty, an associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine.
However, there is one adult who has been cured of HIV but his situation was very unique to say the very least. A bone-marrow transplant to treat his leukemia from a donor with a genetic mutation that provided protection from HIV was his saving grace. That was a strange and unusual circumstance for sure.
While some will be focusing on the future for a cure, others will continue to promote prevention. Women who receive anti-HIV therapy while pregnant reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission by 98% and that cannot be and should not be ignored.
Here’s another tidbit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 28% of people of the 1.2 million HIV-positive Americans have been diagnosed and treated successfully so that their levels of virus are undetectable.
Not surprisingly, the poor in America have been hit the hardest. The sad truth is that many patients lack access to health care and struggles such as homelessness and drug addiction add to the equation as well. Alas, healthcare for everyone seems to be a dream and only a dream.
In the meantime, hats off to every single person that was involved in treating that helpless little Mississippi miracle girl and a huge thank you in advance for all the tireless efforts to repeat that success for others.