Doctors are touting a medical breakthrough after a girl born with HIV has gone into extended remission, saying that they’ve never seen such a recovery and opening the doors to the question: Have scientists and researchers finally discovered a cure for AIDS?
Critics in the medical field say not so fast — it’s too soon to tell.
But the girl’s recovery is tremendous. In fact, the girl, 3, is now so healthy that doctors had to double check that she had been truly born with the disease — that the tests weren’t positive simply because she was exposed to the virus in her mother’s blood, The Associated Press reported.
The New England Journal of Medicine clarified, however, in a Wednesday report that the girl was truly infected. She underwent aggressive treatment for 18 months. The treatments and medicines were halted and since, she’s shown no signs of active infection.
But doctors won’t call it a cure for several reasons: First, they don’t know if her infection-free status will last forever. And second, they don’t know how long it would take before a patient could genuinely be free of the HIV infection.
Still, it’s a momentous medical breakthrough — the first of its kind.
“We want to be very cautious here,” said Dr. Katherine Luzuriag, an AIDS expert with the University of Massachusetts who helped with the girl’s treatment, AP reported. “We’re calling it remission because we’d like to observe the child for a longer time and be absolutely sure there’s no rebound.”