Local Doctors React To Baby Cured Of HIV
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– Aaron Laxton was elated when he learned news of a two-year-old Mississippi girl being cured of HIV, the virus that causes Aids. Laxton was diagnosed with HIV June 6, 2011 after having unprotected sex. The announcement gives Laxton hope. “A glimmer of hope. However, hope is all we have sometimes. We hang on to that.”
The baby was born to a mother who tested positive for HIV and did not have prenatal care. Within thirty hours of birth, the infant was given an aggressive regiment of anti-viral drugs for fifteen months. Pediatric HIV Specialist, Dr. Hannah Gay says the baby’s mother stopped the treatments after that. “The mom admitted that she had not been giving the medicine for the past several months, and I fully expected the baby’s viral load to have gone back up. But when we drew the test, we got back still an undetectable viral load,” says Gay.
While the information is encouraging, researchers call the breakthrough a “functional cure” rather than a “complete cure”. Dr. Ericka Hayes, Medical Director of the HIV Program at Washington University says functional cure means, “There’s no HIV virus making copies of itself in the child, and the HIV virus isn’t affecting the child’s health to the point the child is stable off medication.”
A lot of emphasis is being placed on the baby being functionally cured, and rightly so. However, Aids advocates say don’t lose sight if the importance of prevention. “We are really encouraging people to get tested, know their status, if positive get on medications. this is a very treatable disease,” said Cheryl Oliver, Executive Director St. Louis Effort For Aids.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say they hope to learn from the medical findings in the case and one day, be able to cure other children stricken with HIV. That’s welcome news to Laxton, who is also on the Community Advisory Board for the Aids Clinical Trials Group at Washington University, “Activists and Advocates alike are very ecstatic.”