Setback for AIDS treatment as HIV reappears in 'cured' girl
Published 12/07/2014 | 02:30
AN AMERICAN girl born with the AIDS virus and in remission for years, despite stopping treatment, now shows signs that she still harbours HIV – and therefore is not cured.
The news is a setback to global hopes that very early treatment with powerful HIV drugs might reverse an infection that has seemed permanent once it takes hold.
The Mississippi girl is now nearly four.
As recently as March, doctors had said that she seemed free of HIV, despite not having been on AIDS drugs for about two years. That was a medical first.
But yesterday, doctors said tests last week showed that she is no longer in remission.
She is now back on treatment and is responding well, they said.
The news is "obviously disappointing" and may have implications for a federal study that had been about to start testing early, aggressive treatment in such cases, said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"We're going to take a good hard look at the study and see if it needs any modifications, either in terms of length and type of treatment or because of ethical concerns over raising false hopes about an approach that now has suffered a setback," Mr Fauci said.
Most HIV-infected mothers in the US get AIDS medicines during pregnancy, which greatly cuts the chances they will pass the virus to their babies.
The Mississippi baby's mother received no prenatal care and her HIV was discovered during labour.
Because of the baby's great risk of infection, doctors started her on unusually powerful treatment 30 hours after birth, even before tests could determine whether she was indeed infected.