A Mississippi baby that had reportedly been 'cured' of HIV has been confirmed as still having the virus after traces were found in a routine bloody test.
Doctors had believed that the four year old was cured of the virus after she was given an extreme course of medication immediately after birth.
After nearly two years without medication doctors carried out a routine blood test and discovered that the virus was still in her bloodstream.
Despite using concentrated antiretroviral drugs the virus can hide in the gut and the brain, laying dormant until the treatment stops when it'll start multiplying again.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said:
"It’s obviously disappointing, but I was not surprised. I’ve been chasing these reservoirs for the last 25 years, and I know this virus has a really uncanny way of hiding itself.”
"We’ve got to go back and look at the trial’s design,”
The Mississippi baby isn't the first human to be declared 'cured' of the virus, however doctors are remaining understandably skeptical about making such claims especially after as significant a relapse as this.
Dr Rosemary Gillespie, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, a HIV and sexual health charity said:
"This story is a disappointing reminder of just how far we have to go to defeat HIV. It is a remarkably tenacious virus, which exploits a number of 'hiding places' inside the body to survive. Though daily drug treatments can keep it under control, once someone has contracted HIV they will have it for life. Using condoms remains the best strategy to avoid infection."
"We're fortunate in the UK to have a world-leading antenatal screening programme, which means that women living with HIV can have children safely, with a very small risk of the virus being passed on. In the western world we have the tools to ensure that no child is born with HIV, so cases like this are both rare and concerning.”