Researchers from Johns Hopkins say it's a breakthrough discovery: in Monday's Healthier Me, a toddler in Mississippi is the first child to be "functionally cured" of HIV.
The girl, born to an HIV-positive mother who had no prenatal care, was administered "relatively high" doses of three anti-viral drugs within 30 hours of her birth by Doctor Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist.
After initial tests confirmed that the baby girl was already infected with HIV, she was placed on an antiviral drug regimen, and medication continued for another fifteen months, until Dr. Gay lost touch with the mother.
It's what happened next that got the attention of the medical community.
Dr. Hannah Gay: "The mom admitted that she had not been giving the medicine for the past several months, and I fully expected the baby's viral load to have gone back up, but when we drew the test, we got back still an undetectable viral load."
"I fully expected the baby's viral load to have gone back up, but when we drew the test, we got back still an undetectable viral load." - Dr. Hannah Gay, Pediatric HIV Specialist
Researchers say the child is functionally cured, meaning the presence of the virus is so small that clinical tests cannot detect it in the blood.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins announced Sunday that early intervention was key to this outcome, and they believe this will help them cure other infected babies.
"What this case provided us," says Doctor Deborah Persuad of Johns Hopkins Hospital, "is [proof] that we can use the currently FDA-approved drugs for treating infection in infants."