Researchers in Mississippi say a baby born with HIV - the virus that causes AIDS -- has been cured. Doctors started aggressively treating the infant with antiviral drugs within 30 hours of delivery. Usually doctors prescribe just one drug preventively the first several weeks.
"We've got a high risk of this baby being infected so I chose to start more than one drug," says Dr. Hannah Gay.
The baby received treatment at the University of Mississippi Medical Center for 18 months, then she stopped because of family issues. Now two and a half years old, doctors were surprised to find no signs of infection in her blood.
Researchers term the toddler "functionally cured," meaning supersensitive tests were still able to detect remnants of the virus.
"Our child at this point still has some evidence of HIV viral particles, although no replicating virus," says Dr. Gay.
Only one case of a complete cure has ever been reported. Timothy Ray Brown has gone five years without evidence of HIV after he received a bone marrow transplant from a donor who was naturally resistance to the virus - about 300,000 children are born each year with HIV, mostly in poor countries.
"Whether or not this will be broadly applicable to children remains to be determined," says @Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
As for the little girl, doctors at the University of Mississippi check every few months to make sure the virus doesn't come back.
Researchers say prevention is still the best form of protection. Infected mothers should get treated during pregnancy. It could lower the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby up to 98%.