Doctors say they have cured an infant born with HIV for the first time by giving her a cocktail of drugs shortly after birth, a result that could point the way toward saving the lives of thousands more infected children.

The baby, whose identity has been kept anonymous, began a regimen of AIDS drugs about 30 hours after she was born at a rural Mississippi hospital, doctors said yesterday at a medical meeting in Atlanta. At 18 months, the mother took the child off the medication. With no signs of the virus for 10 months, the infant was deemed “functionally cured,” researchers said.

While HIV treatments can hold the disease at bay, stopping them can be a death sentence, allowing infected cells secreted within the immune system to re-emerge. Administering the mix of drugs right after birth may have stopped the virus from forming hidden reservoirs. If confirmed in further studies, the approach could help cure some of the 300,000 children infected yearly.

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