A three-year-old toddler who contracted the deadly HIV virus while still inside her mother's womb continue to remain health and scot free of the infection even if it has been 18 months since she last received her treatment. Doctors hope the AIDS virus will go into permanent remission so the child can really live normally.
The case of the toddler was first reported in March, but doctors and medical experts refrained from delving much into the matter since everything concerning the child was being highly observed.
"We want to be very cautious here. We're calling it remission because we'd like to observe the child for a longer time and be absolutely sure there's no rebound," Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, an AIDS expert from the University of Massachusetts and is involved in the baby's care, told AP.
"At minimum, the baby is in a clear remission. It is possible that the baby has actually been cured. We don't have a definition for cure as we do for certain cancers, where after five years or so you can be relatively certain the person is not going to go and relapse," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.
Based on an updated report published by the New England Journal of Medicine online on Wednesday, no active virus was seen in the child on latest sophisticated tests.
The Mississippi toddler contracted the HIV virus while still inside her mother's womb, who also didn't know she had the virus. It was found the mother did not undergo prenatal care. Her HIV infection was discovered only during labor.
Doctors immediately placed the newborn on aggressive drug treatment 30 hours after birth. This continued for 18 months.
The Mississippi toddler's HIV virus fell to undetectable levels within a month. Her treatment stopped when she reached 19 months because doctors lost contact with her mother. When she was found 10 months later, doctors find no sign of infection. This, even as her mum had stopped giving her the AIDS medicines.
"At this point, because the follow-up is only 18 months [from the time she reappeared], we cannot declare this child as being cured of HIV. Declaring the child cured of HIV would require a much longer follow-up period, say several years, to be able to say the virus has truly been eliminated or eradicated from the child's body," Deborah Persaud, a pediatric AIDS specialist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
"The big question, of course, is, 'Is the child cured of HIV infection?' The best answer at this moment is a definitive 'maybe'," Scott Hammer, a leading HIV scientists at Columbia University Medical Center wrote.
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