Updated 04:52 PM EST, Tue, Jan 18, 2022

HIV Virus Detected in Child Previously Declared 'Functionally Cured'

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It was announced last year that a child that was born with HIV was "functionally cured" of the condition after receiving therapy consisting of a "liquid antiretroviral" after the child was born. Yet, according the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the "Mississippi Baby," as it has come to be known, has been shown to have discernible amounts of the virus. 

The Verge reports that during a routine medical check-up in early July, the child tested positive for HIV, and subsequent tests have left no doubt of the initial findings. 

"Scientifically, this development reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body," stated Dr. Anthony Fauci, researcher with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

Though this announcement is seen by some as a setback, many doctors have since reminded everyone that the Mississippi Baby's case is still "rather remarkable," reports the Verge.

Dr. Deborah Persaud of John Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore said, "the fact that this child was able to remain off antiretroviral treatment for two years and maintain quiescent virus for that length of time is unprecedented."

"Typically, when treatment is stopped, HIV levels rebound within weeks, not years," she continued. 

This announcement comes after researchers stated in October of last year that the child was still in remission.

Persaud wrote then that the early therapy administered had achieved "long-term remission without the need for lifelong treatment by preventing such viral hideouts from forming in the first place." Of course, such conclusions will now require reexamination with this latest development. 

Researchers plan to continue observing the child as she receives further treatment with the goal of ascertaining exactly why the virus vanished for so long in the absence of ongoing treatment. Hopefully, therapy in the future will be able to prolong the remission for patients indefinitely. 

"The case of the Mississippi child indicates that early antiretroviral treatment in this HIV-infected infant did not completely eliminate the reservoir of HIV-infected cells that was established upon infection but may have considerably limited its development and averted the need for antiretroviral medication over a considerable period," stated Dr. Fauci.

"Now we must direct our attention to understanding why that is and determining whether the period of sustained remission in the absence of therapy can be prolonged even further," he said.

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