These three women are responsible for orchestrating an incredible breakthrough: functionally curing a newborn of AIDS. By giving the infant, who contracted HIV from its mother, anti-HIV drugs within hours of birth, Gay, a pediatrician at the University of Mississippi; Luzuriaga, an immunologist from the University of Massachusetts; and Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, managed to battle back the virus so the child, now 21⁄2 years old, no longer needs medications and shows no signs of HIV.
We scientists are trained to be careful about generalizing about one case. Yet this result gives us more ammunition in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It adds substance to our conviction — not yet proven but heading in the right direction — that we can prevent this disease from infecting newborn babies.
There’s even hope that adults may benefit from the same rapid treatment immediately after HIV infection. Following the success with the newborn, another study reported that 14 more patients have been able to control HIV. These findings show that early HIV treatment has even greater benefits than previously thought. With other preventive measures and better science, we now have a historic opportunity to control the spread of HIV.
Dybul is the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
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