Despite Aggressive Treatment and Doctors’ Efforts, Mississippi Baby Relapses to HIV Positive13
There has been a setback in the scientific research of infectious diseases this week. The young child known as the ”Mississippi baby” was found to be HIV positive.
The child was born to an HIV-positive mother who did not know her status beforehand and, therefore, did not take the antiretroviral drugs during her pregnancy that could have prevented transmission from mother to child.
At birth, the physician, Dr. Hannah B. Gay from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, decided not to follow standard protocols and immediately put the baby on the triple-drug cocktail normally reserved for HIV-positive adults. The child was under treatment for a year and a half, but then both the mother and child stopped going for treatment.
When the AIDS virus enters the body, it first invades the CD4 white blood cells and makes millions of copies of itself. Then it enters lymph cells and uses its RNA core to make DNA mirror images of itself that then integrate themselves into the DNA of the cell, creating the “reservoir.” Thus, it’s easy to “kill” an infected RNA cell floating around in the blood stream, but scientists have not found a way to destroy the hidden reservoirs in lymph cells around the body.
The mother and child were found, and for two years the child was negative. In a March 2013 article in The New England Journal of Medicine, it was announced that if the case could be replicated, then we were not too far from a cure for newly infected newborns and adults. It was thought that the aggressive medication cocktail in newly infected people was killing the virus before it could establish reservoirs in the body.