An infant who was seemingly cured of HIV following aggressive drug therapy just hours after her birth was recently discovered to be infected with the virus that causes AIDS after all, doctors announced Thursday.
The so-called Mississippi Baby, now nearly 4 years old, had raised hopes of a potential cure for babies infected with HIV when the girl's case was first described at an AIDS conference last year. It also provided the foundation for an upcoming clinical trial.
The recent discovery that the 46-month-old child had actually carried the virus at undetectable levels for almost two years before it rebounded suddenly came as a blow to health officials and HIV experts.
"It felt very much like a punch to the gut," said Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., who had treated the girl.
"It was extremely disappointing, both from the scientific standpoint that we had been very hopeful that this would lead to bigger and better things, but mainly for the sake of the child, who now is back on medicine and expected to stay on medicine for a very long time," Gay said during a news conference.