On Sunday, researchers announced that an infant born with HIV is now a “functionally cured”, healthy two-year old with only trace amounts of the virus in her system. Doctors involved in her treatment made the announcement in advance of the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections today. The medical definition of “functionally cured” is when a virus is present in the body in such a small concentration, medical intervention is not necessary.

The girl’s mother discovered she was HIV positive when she went into labor and was admitted into a local hospital. Doctors tested the infant shortly after birth and concluded that the child had contracted the virus in utero. The child was transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center where medical staff decided to treat the baby with a trio antiretroviral drugs 30 hours after being born.

Dr. Hannah Gay, who originally treated the child, told reporters “We are hoping that future studies will show that very early institution of effective therapy will result in this same outcome consistently.”

“For pediatrics, this is our Timothy Brown,” said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a lead author of the formal report on the girl. Timothy Brown was an HIV-positive man at the turn of the century; when he received a bone transplant for leukemia in 2007 from a person who was HIV-resistant, he became HIV-negative. Brown is still alive and is still considered functionally cured.

Sources: CNN 03/4/2013; Los Angeles Times, 03/3/2013; The New York Times 03/3/2013

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