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Baby Cured of HIV for First Time, A Medical Breakthrough

Update Date: Mar 03, 2013 08:45 PM EST
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A baby has reportedly been cured of HIV for the very first time, researchers announced Sunday, a medical breakthrough that could greatly impact how babies who are born infected with the virus that causes AIDS are treated.

The girl, who is now two-and-a-half, took medication for the first year-and-a-half of her life and has been off of them with no signs of infection, according to the Associated Press. The baby, who was not identified, was born in Mississippi.

After being alive for just 30 hours, she was given antiretroviral drugs, a medical practice that is not normally done. Instead, the common practice for high-risk newborns is to provide them with smaller doses of the drugs until the HIV blood test results are made available when they are six weeks old.

"For pediatrics, this is our Timothy Brown,'' said Dr. Deborah Persaud, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and lead author of the report on the baby, according to the New York Times. "It's proof of principle that we can cure H.I.V. infection if we can replicate this case.''

If the baby remains healthy it would mark the second reported case of an HIV cure in the world. The first was a middle-aged man in Berlin with leukemia who received a bone-marrow transplant.

"You could call this about as close to a cure, if not a cure, that we've seen," Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health tells the AP.

Meanwhile, the New York Times spoke to medical experts who say they're not really swayed with the evidence. Instead they suggest that perhaps the baby wasn't infected to begin with and this was merely a case of preventing HIV. However, researchers insist they are confident the baby was infected with the virus, adding that the baby tested positive for five HIV tests within her first month.  

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

Dr. Persaud and her team will formerly present their findings on Monday, March 4 at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.

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