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A young girl from Mississippi who was infected with HIV has been cured of the disease, scientists reported at a conference over the weekend. After the disease was detected in tests Pediatric disease specialist Hannah Gray administered an especially aggressive anti-viral treatment within 31 hours of the girl’s birth. Later, when the girl had been without antiviral drugs for at least six months, Gray caught up with the 2 and 1/2-year-old and ran further blood tests. The results shocked her.

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Gray expected the little girl, whose name has not been released, to have strains of the virus “teeming” in her blood, NPR reports. Instead she found zero sign of HIV infection. Astonished, she contacted pediatric HIV/AIDS specialist Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga from the University of Massachussets, who also ran a host of ultra-sensitive tests and they all showed up negative for HIV. Gray called this a functional cure that she attributes to the unusually aggressive treatment undertaken so early on in the child’s life.

This is the first time anyone has been cured of HIV with simple antiviral drugs since the global pandemic first broke out three decades ago. Previously San Francisco resident Timothy Brown, also known as The Berlin Man, was cured of HIV when he received a bone marrow transplant from a genetically HIV-resistant donor in Germany. While his cure can’t be repeated, scientists hope that the Mississippi girl’s case could offer hope for the 300,000 infants across the globe who are infected with HIV each year.

Via NPR Health