Federal health officials announced Thursday that the "Mississippi baby"—thought to have been cured of HIV with aggressive early treatment—in fact remains infected. The news shattered hopes that large doses of antiretrovirals delivered soon after birth could reverse infections.
The child showed no HIV in her blood or tissues for a couple of years, but a blood test several weeks ago showing signs of infection. Now, plans for a worldwide clinical trial involving 450 babies will have to be reevaluated.
The discovery of the virus was "a punch in the gut," said Hannah B. Gay, the pediatrician at the University of Mississippi Medical Center who first treated the child.
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The Mississippi case stirred worldwide excitement last year when it was described in The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Deborah Persaud, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and the lead author of the report, said at the time that it was "proof of principle that we can cure H.I.V. infection if we can replicate this case."
On Thursday, Dr. Persaud said the fact that the child had remained virus-free for two years was "unprecedented." Normally, the virus rebounds in a few weeks.