Toddler ‘cured’ of HIV has relapsed

3 Oct 2014

A three-year-old boy in Milan, Italy, who was thought to be cured of HIV after intensive anti-viral treatment, has relapsed.

The Independent reported the child’s blood had shown no signs of HIV following the therapy, leading researchers to believe the virus had been eradicated. However, two weeks after treatment stopped, the virus re-emerged.

The ‘Milan baby’ now follows the ‘Mississippi baby’, an infant girl who had also been thought to be cured of HIV following drug treatment. Born to a HIV-positive mother, the baby began to receive three standard HIV-fighting drugs at just 30 hours old.

Subsequent tests showed levels of the virus undetectable 29 days after birth. Doctors continued to treat the girl for about 18 months but, after two years without drugs, tests revealed she still had HIV.

Timothy Brown, known as the ‘Berlin patient’, remains the only person to be functionally cured of HIV. In 2007, Brown received a bone marrow transplant to treat acute myeloid leukemia. As well as successfully curing his cancer, the HIV virus dropped to undetectable levels in his blood.

HIV ribbon image via Shutterstock

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic