How the Mississippi Baby Gives Us Hope

In July, it was announced that the Mississippi Baby was in remission, not cured of HIV. And while we still hope for a cure to HIV, we find hope in the lesson learned from the Mississippi  Baby.

 

About the Mississippi  Baby

In July 2010, an HIV positive mother gave birth to a child. It was not discovered until the baby was delivered via C-section that the mother was HIV-positive. After being born, the infant was on intense antiretroviral therapy. For 18 months, the infant received regular HIV medical care.

Then, the mother and her child stopped showing up to the appointments. After 27 months of total absence of treatment, the Mississippi Baby and her mother returned to doctors. After performing an HIV test, it was revealed that the Mississippi Baby was not infected with the virus.

Why the Mississippi Baby is Remarkable

When HIV infects the body, it multiplies. Antiretroviral therapy is designed to control the virus before it replicates further, but does not eliminate the virus in the body.

After a 2 year absence in treatment, doctors were expecting higher levels of HIV to be in the bloodstream, since the infant had been off antiretroviral medication. But, the virus did not increase. In fact, it was undetectable.

Hope for HIV Research

The Mississippi Baby is now in “remission” instead of being cured. But, that hasn’t stopped HIV researchers from looking towards a brighter future – one without HIV. Before this point, there has only been speculation that HIV can lay dormant and re-emerge.

The Mississippi Baby gives us an opportunity to learn how HIV appears, and how it can become undetectable and nonexistent for years at a time. While researchers are still trying to put together the puzzle, it is safe to say that HIV prevention is more important than ever.

Whatever comes out of the research behind the Mississippi Baby, it will help us understand what it means to be diagnosed with HIV.