(CBS News) A baby born with the virus that causes AIDS in Mississippi appears to have been cured, as scientists announced Sunday that the two-and-a-half-year-old child has shown no signs of infection after being off medication for a year. The child received aggressive treatment just 30 hours after birth and would be the second human in the world to be considered cured.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the case is "very likely a cure" but explained "it's really more of a hypothesis-developing or driving situation ... we need to see if this is going to be applicable."
The course of treatment involved serves as "an important proof of concept that if you treat early enough, you prevent the virus from establishing what we call a reservoir where it's very difficult to eliminate that after it's been established ... so they got a jump on virus," Fauci said Monday on "CBS This Morning."
The use of early and aggressive treatment could be a paradigm shift in HIV/AIDS treatment in children in the developing world, where mothers are typically treated during pregnancy to lower the risk of passing the virus on to the child.
"In those circumstances you don't aggressively treat the baby ... you wait about six weeks [after birth] until you can definitively prove that the baby is infected and then you treat them. Unfortunately, if the baby is infected, then that may have given the virus a period of time to establish itself."
Fauci explained that the Mississippi case could lead to a shift treatment options and added that, "we're going to have to start looking at the relative risk versus the benefit of doing it this way."