A Mississippi baby, born to an HIV positive mother who received no prenatal care was given an aggressive regimen of anti-retroviral medications just 30 hours after birth. Doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center began treating the infant right away with the traditional HIV drugs AZT, TC and nevirapine.
And because they had a rapid diagnosis, they kept the cocktail going long after standard recommendations.
Initial viral loads were extremely high for the baby. Three tests confirmed a high viral load. Then in one month, nothing.
Still the medication was continued for one year, but the mother stopped bringing the baby for treatment. A year later even with no medication, now at nearly two years old, the child was found and again tested. No HIV.
Against all odds, this baby beat the virus that causes aids.
Doctors will no doubt study this unique case further. But the truth is, many babies are spared the ravages of HIV if their mothers simply take medication during the pregnancy to lower her viral load. And since the medications have side effects, doctors say it is still best to prevent infection in the first place.
But this case gives doctors a rare opportunity to see how powerful the drug cocktails can be even if the implications may be limited.
Only one other time in history was someone cured of HIV. The other was an adult who received a bone marrow transplant form a donor who was not only HIV negative, but had a rare genetic mutation that blocks HIV from entering cells. The so called berlin patient is now immune to HIV and remains HIV free even without taking antiretroviral drugs.