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"Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child’s care, and the HIV/AIDS research community," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a statement Thursday. "Scientifically, this development reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body. The NIH remains committed to moving forward with research on a cure for HIV infection."
Fauci said that while antiretroviral therapy did not completely cure the child of the virus, the treatment still "may have considerably limited its development."
"Now we must direct our attention to understanding why that is and determining whether the period of sustained remission in the absence of therapy can be prolonged even further," he said.
Dr. Deborah Persaud, a professor at the John Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore who was involved in the child's case, said that the results of the treatment are still a step forward.
"The fact that this child was able to remain off antiretroviral treatment for two years and maintain quiescent virus for that length of time is unprecedented," she said in the NIAID statement. "Typically, when treatment is stopped, HIV levels rebound within weeks, not years."