HIV “Cure” Found in Mississippi: Nothing to be proud of

Dubious reports have surfaced that an allegedly HIV positive infant born prematurely in rural Mississippi to an HIV infected mother has been cleared of the virus due to a non-standard administration of HIV drugs. Naturally, I am extremely skeptical.

I wonder if the child ever truly had HIV in the first place. Given that the child was born prematurely, I also wonder how generalizable the strategy would be, assuming that the child did, in fact, have HIV.

The world, however, seems to believe that this is a “cure” for HIV. Optimistically, I would call this a case of prophylaxis.

Most frustrating for me, is the surge of pride from Mississippians. Having grown up there, I don’t think that this is anything to be proud of. The profile of HIV in Mississippi (see my paper draft) is overwhelmingly rural, poor and, most salient, black (See my lit review on HIV in Mississippi).

The simple reason that this so-called “cure” was “found” in Mississippi, as opposed to say, Vermont, is Mississippi’s crushing level of endemic poverty, entrenched racism, and institutionalized marginalization and exclusion. Mississippi’s backward politics and racist history are what caused this epidemic in the first place. Nothing to be proud of.

Equally frustrating are the absurd comments to the effect that “God has come and given us this cure” likely stemming from the heart wrenching involvement of an infant. Assuming that such a deity exists, we should probably fault God with creating the disease in the first place, and allowing babies to be infected through no fault of their own. It seems silly to me to praise a despot for delivering services after he’s made a mess of the place.

Mississippi is sixth in the nation for new cases of HIV. The social dynamics which determine transmission are different in rural and urban areas. Dividing states into clases of rural HIV and urban HIV, Mississippi would come in number 3 just behind Georgia and Louisiana. In fact, though, I would argue that Mississippi’s rate of new HIV cases (25 per 100,000) is actually an underestimate. Health delivery in Mississippi’s HIV hotspots is so inadequate and health care utilization so low, that many new cases are undetected.

I will wait and see if the optimistic reports are true. My feeling is that this is a case of hopeful overstatement. Until then, I will remain skeptical.

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About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

2 responses to “HIV “Cure” Found in Mississippi: Nothing to be proud of”

  1. Matthew Saint-Germain says :

    Hence, my comment, “If this proves replicable…”

  2. florencedeckson says :

    Hello people in the world I am Florence deck/son my testimony about my ugly situation of my health, I was HIV positive and with a spell on my body over ten years of time, I and my family who so much concern of my have goes a long way seeking for cure all over the places that we can go to and we have lost our hope nothing can be done any longer because of area we visited spend huge amount of money and at the end nothing changes about the spell and the HIV, Until one faithful day that I met my friend in the hospital when I went for check up and I told him about my suffering then she gave me a location where her aunty cure her own so I just think that it may be the same places that I have been before so I told my sister about so she gave me money and I went to the place getting there I explain my self to the man and tell me my HIV status then he gave instructions and he treated me with his herbs just for two weeks ,and he ask me to go for test and I said on my mind maybe he is cheating me again so I do what he said but glory be to God then I went back to the man with the result .he said that it is well and he take me to a building at night and ask me to bath with the water in the bow and gave me little to drink and I slept off but the following morning I urinate it was black in nature that was how the spell was out of me till date. Please this man I worth giving him millions, please in any situation you find yourself that is not the end and I know that all power belong to God but he works through person, so if you need his help visit him at thanks be to God halleluya am healed,

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