Mississippi babyJoe Segen2016-12-26T11:07:23+00:00
Definition A popular term for an infant born in 2012 to an HIV-positive mother who became a mass media darling for having seemingly been cured* of the infection.
Back story Mom had not received prenatal care and thus had not been previously identified as HIV-positive until she was in labour, at which time the baby was given buckets of anti-retrovirals. At 18 months, Mom stopped coming to the clinic for followup and stopped giving the baby the antivirals. When the baby was next seen, 5 months later, she was tested for HIV and found negative. Stop the Press! commanded Dr. Hannah Gay, the baby’s doc, What have we here, a cure? and alerted the media. Not long afterwards, the baby was re-tested with not surprising results, HIV positive again.
Significance of case Based on this one case, the US National Institutes of Health–NIH planned a study in which infants would be given megadoses of antivirals and taken off them at age 2, seemingly having been cured. The pilot study of the Mississippi baby, who stopped receiving antivirals, continues, but non-treatment opens an ethical can of worms that sounds familiar…remember the Tuskegee studies of older black men with advanced syphilis?
Synonyms Mississippi child, Mississippi infant