There may be an advancement in the fight against HIV after doctors announced Sunday in Atlanta a "functional cure" to the deadly virus in infants.
The "functional cure" was discovered after blood tests in a previously HIV-infected infant came back clean.
Doctors were floored because the child had been off of life-saving, anti-AIDS drugs for months.
But doctors involved in the find cautioned today that we are still a long way from a true cure.
"If we can replicate this in other infants, then it has huge implications for the burden of infection that's occurring globally," said Dr. Deborah Persaud, Johns Hopkins HIV specialist, who worked on the case.
University of Mississippi HIV specialist Dr. Hannah Gay treated the infected child who is now HIV-free.
At the time of discovery, Dr. Gay had not seen the infant for months after the child's birth.
It wasn't until the mother returned for a checkup that Gay, after extensive testing, discovered that the child was virus-free.
"I assumed that it was due to lab error, so I called her back in and redid that viral load and also did some other testing," Dr. Gay said Monday outside the Georgia World Congress Center. "I was exceptionally surprised when all of those tests came back negative,"said Gay.
While the news of the "functional cure" spread fast doctors caution that duplication is the key to historical relevance.
"If we can replicate this in other infants then it has huge implications for the burden of infection that's occurring globally," Persaud said.
Both doctors stressed that no one should stop anti-AIDS drugs as a result of this case.
"This is a unique case; this doesn't change our clinical practice right now. Kids who are on therapy should stay on their antiretroviral drugs," Dr. Persaud said
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