After nearly 25 million deaths worldwide resulting from AIDS, Hannah Gay, a Mississippi pediatrician and infectious-disease expert appears to have cured a baby girl born with HIV.
Going into the pregnancy, the mother was unaware of her HIV status and did not have the benefit of prenatal care. Due to this, a rapid HIV test was performed on the baby girl upon her birth. The results came back positive. According to the Wall Street Journal Online, the baby was then immediately transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center that was located over 100 miles away from the baby’s initial birth place. Just 30 hours after her birth, the baby girl was treated with aggressive anti-virals. Hannah Gay, the baby’s primary pediatrician, kept the infant on the medication for the next few weeks. As the baby continued to be treated, her viral levels declined. By day 29, Dr. Gay’s work seems to have paid off when there were no longer any traces of HIV in standard testing. Encouraged by her results, Dr. Gay kept the baby on medication for the next 18 months.
“I saw her once a month,” Dr. Gay said to the Wall Street Journal. “Her viral load was undetectable, and her immune system was healthy, what we expect with a baby taking medicines regularly.”
However, after a successful 18 month period, the mother reportedly stopped taking her daughter in for check ups. Five months later, in August of 2012, health department and child protection workers found the child. Before continuing treatment, Dr. Gay ordered a test to ensure the baby had not become resistant to the anti virals. To Dr. Gay’s amazement, there was no virus left to test. The child appeared to have been cured.
The potential impact on broader treatments is unprecedented and undeniable. Hannah Gay and her findings could change the lives of hundreds of thousand babies globally born with the HIV virus. For now, we have Hannah Gay and her colleagues at the Mississippi Medical Center to thank for the continued life of this beautiful little girl.