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Nine-month-old baby may have been cured of HIV, U.S. scientists say

BOSTON (Reuters) - A 9-month-old baby who was born in California with the HIV virus that leads to AIDS may have been cured as a result of treatments that doctors began just four hours after her birth, medical researchers said on Wednesday.

That child is the second case, following an earlier instance in Mississippi, in which doctors may have brought HIV in a newborn into remission by administering antiretroviral drugs in the first hours of life, said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a pediatrics specialist with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, at a medical conference in Boston.

"The child ... has become HIV-negative," Persaud said, referring to the 9-month-old baby born outside Los Angeles, who is being treated at Miller Children's Hospital. The child's identify was not disclosed.

That child is still receiving a three-drug cocktail of anti-AIDS treatments, while the child born in Mississippi, now 3-1/2 years old, ceased receiving antiretroviral treatments two years ago.

Both children were born of mothers infected with HIV, which wipes out the body's immune system and causes AIDS.

Speaking at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Persaud credited the early use of antiretroviral therapies with improving the children's health but warned that more research must be done.

"Really the only way we can prove that we have accomplished remission in these kids is by taking them off treatment and that's not without risk," Persaud said. "This is a call to action for us to mobilize and be able to learn from these cases."

The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, surfaced more than 30 years ago and now infects more than 34 million people worldwide. Prevention measures, including condoms, have helped check its spread and antiretroviral drugs can now control the disease for decades, meaning it is no longer a death sentence.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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