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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Hannah Gay, Katherine Luzuriaga and Deborah Persaud

AIDS Researchers

2013_time100_persaud_gay_luzuriaga.jpgIllustrations  by David Despau for TIME

These three women are responsible for orchestrating an incredible  breakthrough: functionally curing a newborn of AIDS. By giving the infant, who  contracted HIV from its mother, anti-HIV drugs within hours of birth, Gay, a  pediatrician at the University of Mississippi; Luzuriaga, an immunologist from  the University of Massachusetts; and Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins  Children’s Center, managed to battle back the virus so the child, now  21⁄2 years old, no longer needs medications and shows no signs of HIV.

We scientists are trained to be careful about generalizing about one case.  Yet this result gives us more ammunition in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It  adds substance to our conviction — not yet proven but heading in the right  direction — that we can prevent this disease from infecting newborn babies.

There’s even hope that adults may benefit from the same rapid treatment  immediately after HIV infection. Following the success with the newborn, another  study reported that 14 more patients have been able to control HIV. These  findings show that early HIV treatment has even greater benefits than previously  thought. With other preventive measures and better science, we now have a  historic opportunity to control the spread of HIV.

By giving an HIV-positive infant anti-HIV drugs within hours of birth, Gay, a pediatrician at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, was responsible for orchestrating an incredible breakthrough. Gay, a 1976 graduate of the University of Mississippi with a B.A. in biology and chemistry and a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, has been honored by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world

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