Baby 'Cured' of HIV Probably Never Really Had It

Today's drugs good at stopping transmission, but not eliminating infection
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2013 12:26 PM CDT
Baby 'Cured' of HIV Probably Never Really Had It
Doctors caution that last week's announcement about the baby being "cured" of HIV may have been overblown in the media. This photo is not that baby, by the way.   (Shutterstock)

Don't get too excited by last week's news of a baby in Mississippi being "cured" of HIV, warns Mark Siedner in the Wall Street Journal—just because the baby had been exposed to HIV does not mean she was really infected with the virus. Most likely, the baby's heavy retroviral treatment prevented her from being infected by her mother's blood—indeed, today's medicines can drop the transmission rate in newborns from 30% to just 1%.

For the 30 million people around the world infected with HIV, "last week's news represents neither a path toward a cure nor support for discontinuing antiviral medicines," writes Siedner, himself an infectious disease researcher. Today's medicines can prevent the HIV from replicating and growing, but they cannot eliminate the virus from a body. However, the story is still good news for the thousands of pregnant women around the world diagnosed with HIV, notes Siedner, showing that the chances of their babies escaping from the virus are better than ever. Click for Siedner's full column. (More HIV/AIDS stories.)

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