Medical experts talk about toddler possibly cured of HIV - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Medical experts talk about toddler possibly cured of HIV

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A toddler in Mississippi is cured of HIV and for the first time, experts at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital are talking about what this medical breakthrough could mean.

People in the medical field say if this discovery is as it seems, it could change how the virus is treated globally.

"That's great news," said John K. Buolamwini, Ph.D., who is a professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, as well as the vice chair of UT Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Dr. John Buolamwini says the announcement that an 18-month-old child born with HIV is now off medication is hopeful. His team develops compounds to fight HIV.

In older people, he says HIV usually hides in what are called reservoirs like the brain or lymph nodes.

"What I think is the baby's reservoirs were not developed at the time of infection," said Dr. Buolamwini.

University of Mississippi Medical Center Pediatrician Dr. Hannah Gay started treating the baby with an aggressive series of antiviral drugs just 30 hours after birth.

Dr. Patricia Flynn, Department of Infectious Disease member and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital HIV Clinic director said in a statement that this is "incredibly exciting news that provides hope."

Dr. Flynn says the medical community will follow the progress of the baby's immune response to HIV and that there is a lot of work left to be done.

"There is still a very large amount of work that needs to be done to learn how a similar 'functional cure' can be achieved in patients with chronic HIV infection," said Dr. Flynn.

Medical professionals say that only time will tell.

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