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HIV baby cured brings new hope

11:50 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Mississippi case in which a baby was cured of HIV is one of two worldwide where someone has been cured of the virus. Experts are embracing it as a sign of hope, but it is being viewed with guarded optimism.

"It has been challenging," said Aleathea Morrison.

Twenty-eight years ago, Morrison was diagnosed with the HIV virus. She takes a cocktail of three tablets a day. She said living with HIV is learning to live with yourself.

"I battled a lot of rejection," said Morrison," I did not understand. It takes just getting educated about the virus."

Now, she shares her story with anyone who will listen, on the job, during public forums. Her goal is to encourage HIV testing.

"I use my life as a weapon to fight against this virus," she said, "I don't like it. I don't like what it does to families."

Morrison views reports that a baby was cured of the virus as a sign of hope.

"That lets me know that if you start with the baby, there's something down the line for me as a cure," she said.

Doctor Isaac Delke, OB-GYN at Shands, said the reports of the Mississippi baby being cured of HIV comes with guarded optimism.

"Anything that creates hope or cure raises a lot of hope for individuals like me who take care of HIV patients," said Delke.

Delke said the fact is if an HIV infected mother gets good prenatal care, it can reduce the chances of the newborn being tested positive.

But when it comes to an adult who has been living with HIV, the virus has spread through out the body and it becomes more difficult to cure it, but it can still be treated.

"I don't want to close the book yet," said Delke, "but the Mississippi case doesn't apply yet."

Education and testing he said is one way to reduce the spreading of the HIV virus.

Dr. Delke said they are already seeing results in Northeast Florida.

"There were no HIV-infected cases born, last year," he said.

Delke said it is a fact that prenatal care will reduce the chances of a newborn being HIV positive. He wishes every pregnant woman would practice good prenatal care.

Morrsion is a parent and said her daughter is HIV negative.

The number of HIV cases in Jacksonville's African American community is staggering.

Wednesday, March 6 at 6 p.m., there will be a town hall meeting at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church on St. Augustine Road.

The goal is to increase awareness and reduce the stigma of HIV.

First Coast News

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