free article Hype and the HIV “Cure” by Margaret McCartney at The British Medical Journal (BMJ)
The Guardian’s headline was “US doctors cure child born with HIV.” It continued, “Doctors in the US have made medical history by effectively curing a child born with HIV … the child has a normal life expectancy and is highly unlikely to be infectious to others, doctors believe.” The researcher was described as “stunned” at this “extraordinary” outcome. The story ended with a note that patients should not stop taking antiretrovirals and that preventive treatments for pregnant, HIV positive women were of proved effectiveness. There was no reminder of the unpublished nature of the report and its lack of peer review or the lack of replication.
Sarah Boseley in the same newspaper the next day explained the limitations of the research: “Is this the big one? Have doctors stumbled across the cure for HIV? Unfortunately not. This is progress … but the implications for those already infected or even the still significant numbers of babies born with the virus in the developing world are sadly probably slight.”