(HealthDay News) — A Mississippi girl born with HIV who was thought to be cured by immediate and aggressive drug treatment has relapsed, with new tests showing detectable levels of the AIDS-causing virus in her bloodstream, disappointed federal officials announced Thursday afternoon.
The girl, now nearly 4 years old, had remained virus-free even though she stopped taking HIV medications when she was 18 months old. Doctors had hoped her remission would open the door to a functional cure for all children born with the virus.
But a blood test taken during a routine clinical care visit earlier this month uncovered detectable HIV levels in her blood. Additional testing found that the girl also had a decreased white blood cell count and the presence of HIV antibodies, both of which are signs that an actively replicating pool of HIV has established itself in her body.
“Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child’s care, and the HIV/AIDS research community,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an agency news release. “Scientifically, this development reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body.”