HIV baby in US 'cured' by treatment
A baby girl in the US born with HIV appears to have been cured, scientists have announced.
The girl, born in Mississippi, was treated hours after birth with standard drug therapy already used to treat HIV.
The child, who is now two-and-a-half years old, has been off medication for about a year with no signs of infection.
If the girl stays healthy, it would be only the world's second reported cure.
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More testing needs to be done to see if the treatment would have the same effect on other children, but scientists say the results could possibly lead to a cure for children with HIV.
The Mississippi baby was treated with a mixture of widely available drugs already used to treat HIV infection in infants.
She was born in a rural hospital where the mother had only just tested positive for HIV infection.
Doctors knew the baby was at high risk of being infected because the mother had not been given any prenatal HIV treatment.
The baby was transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where she was given treatment at just 30 hours old.
Paediatric HIV specialist Dr Hannah Gay put her on a cocktail of three standard HIV-fighting drugs even before laboratory tests came back confirming the infection.
It suggests the treatment wiped out HIV before it could form hideouts in the body, scientists say.
The findings were presented at a major Aids meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, by Dr Deborah Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
“This is a proof of concept that HIV can be potentially curable in infants,” she said.
But doctors stressed prevention was better than cure, and no cure was guaranteed.
There is currently no cure for HIV, but treatment can keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy.
People on HIV treatment can live a healthy, active life, although they may experience side effects from the treatment. If HIV is diagnosed late, treatment may be less effective in preventing AIDS.
Two million people die of Aids every year. HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus - is estimated to have infected 33 million people worldwide.
The virus infects and gradually destroys the cells in the body that usually combat infections leaving the body susceptible to diseases it would normally be able to fight.
Without treatment, the immune system will become too weak to fight off illness and a person with HIV may develop rare infections or cancers. When these are particularly serious, the person is said to have AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
HIV can only be passed on through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk.
More than 90,000 people are living with HIV in the UK.