First baby functionally cured of HIV - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

How the first baby functionally cured of HIV will make a difference in finding a cure


MADISON (WKOW) -- On Sunday, researchers from Johns Hopkins announced that a toddler in Mississippi is the first child to be "functionally cured" of HIV.

"Functionally cured" means the presence of the virus is so small in the girl that standard clinical tests cannot detect it.  

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, with the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, attended the announcement in Atlanta earlier this week. He specializes in infectious diseases.

Dr. Westergaard said the baby was unfortunately born to a mother, who didn't know she was HIV positive. He says before doctors even confirmed the baby was HIV positive as well, they decided to take an aggressive approach to the treatment.

According to Dr. Westergaard, the baby was put on HIV drugs, but the mother for some reason stopped giving them to her when she was about 15 months old. When the girl was taken back to the doctor, just before her second birthday, the doctors found she was HIV free, even though she'd been off medication for five months.

Now researchers, including Dr. Westergaard, are hopeful this kind of treatment will work on other babies. Dr. Westergaard says were closer than we've ever been to finding a cure to HIV.

Doctors say more studies need to be done, but that this case may have inadvertently paved the way for other babies to have a brighter future.

Dr. Westergaard joined us on 27 News at 5 on Wednesday to talk about the toddler and HIV research.

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