Disappointed federal officials today announced that the “Mississippi baby,” thought to have been cured of HIV with an aggressive treatment regimen, now has detectable levels of virus. The sad news, upsetting for the family of the 46-month-old girl, also dashed the hopes of clinicians who believed a cure for babies born with HIV may be within their grasp.
In a news briefing by the National Institutes of Health clinicians explained that the girl had been off medication for more than two years but had remained seemingly HIV free. Her health had been carefully tracked during regular visits to the clinic every six to eight weeks. But last week testing from a routine examination revealed that the child’s viral load had spiked and that her levels of CD4+ T cells, markers of a normal immune system, had dropped, says Hannah Gay, a University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatrician who treated the patient. The child had been off of her strong HIV drug cocktail treatment for the past 27 months.