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Local doctors on potential HIV breakthrough

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Albany/HV: Local doctors on potential HIV breakthrough
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It made headlines as soon as the story came out - a Mississippi baby apparently born with HIV who was treated by doctors and now has no detectable virus in her blood. Does it mean we could soon be seeing a cure to the disease that has killed so many? Or is it just another step along the research path? YNN's Katie Morse tells us what local doctors have to say.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — In labs across the world, HIV research is ongoing. The recent story of a baby who was apparently "cured" has people talking.

The little girl was born with the disease and treated with a number of popular drugs, and now shows no virus in her blood.

"We've had thousands of children probably treated this way, and this was the first report that has some indications that potentially this baby was infected, and was cured," said Dr. Mark Hicar, with Women and Children's Hospital.

But doctors with UB say even though people are saying the baby was "cured," that might not be the right word to use. They say, there's still a lot of questions to be answered, and a lot of research to be done.

"The first thought is exciting, however we have to be cautious," explained Dr. Chiu-Bin Hsiao, a UB Associate Professor of Medicine. "We do not have any information on if this baby has established a chronic infection or not."

"I'm cautiously optimistic that they cured this infant, but I'm not completely convinced that the baby was ever infected," said Hicar.

If the baby never had the disease, but was treated anyway, it makes sense the virus would no longer be in her system. Doctors also say, a small percentage of the population is genetically able to fight HIV on their own, so the baby could fall into that category.

Either way, they hope the conversation continues, and this moves research forward.

"Our University at Buffalo actually is on the leading edge of the nanotechnology in HIV medication; however, we still have a long way to go," said Dr. Hsiao.

"I'm optimistic that we'll be able to develop at least a good vaccine against HIV in the next 10-20 years, but it's - it's a tough road," explained Hicar.

So while there are still many questions, doctors are hoping this research is a step in the right direction. They say they hope it, along with the work they're doing here and around the world, will eventually help find a cure.

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