Now, nearly three years later, the girl still has no trace of HIV in her blood, 18 months after ending treatment. There was little preparation for her unprecedented procedure, as her mother had no prenatal care and did not know that she herself had HIV until she was in labor and delivery.
"We didn't have the opportunity to treat the mom during the pregnancy as we would like to be able do to prevent transmission to the baby," said Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
High doses of three antiretroviral drugs were administered 30 hours after the girl was born in an attempt to control the virus. Within a few days, Gay determined the girl was HIV positive and had probably been infected in utero.
Doctors did not plan to stop the treatments, however -- the girl had been "functionally cured" by the drugs, and stayed on them for 15 months. Her mother then stopped administering the drugs for some reason, Gay said.
Early findings of the case were presented in March, but with time off the drugs, it confirms what researchers say is the first documented case of HIV remission in a child.
"We're thrilled that the child remains off medication and has no detectable virus replicating," Gay said. "We've continued to follow the child, obviously, and she continues to do very well. There is no sign of the return of HIV, and we will continue to follow her for the long term."
This may change the treatment of newborns whose mothers have HIV, as doctors do not typically administer full doses of antiretrovirals until the babies are months old. Further trials will determine whether this outcome is commonly achievable.