The baby girl who had emerged as a ray of hope for the global combat against AIDS, when she was cured of HIV after being born to an infected mother has now been detected with the HIV virus.
In a huge setback to researchers, the child known as the “Mississippi baby” who when put on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) within 30 hours of birth was cured in 2013 by stopping the formation of viral reservoirs — dormant cells responsible for the re-starting the infection in most HIV patients within weeks of halting the therapy has now been found to have been re-infected after more than 2 years without ART support.
The kid has detectable HIV levels in the blood (16,750 copies/mL). Besides, the child has reduced levels of CD4+ T-cells, the main constituent of a normal immune system, and the presence of HIV antibodies — signs of a replicating pool of virus in the body. The kid has been put on ART again. It has been found that the child’s HIV infection was the same strain acquired from the mother.
HIV first emerged over 30 years ago and has till now infected over 34 million people globally. Scientists face a daunting challenge of finding a vaccine against HIV. As per the UN estimates, 330,000 babies were infected in 2011. This is apart from more than 3 million children living with HIV across the globe.
In India, over 14,000 children got infected in 2011, which accounted for 13% decrease as compared to 2009. The number of estimated deaths among children (0-14 years old) due to AIDS was 10,213 in 2011. In India, in 2011, an estimated 21 lakh people living with HIV/AIDS, 7% were children. Nearly 40% (8.16 lakh) of them were women, who are likely to pass on the virus to their babies.