Cured Newborn ‘inspiring’
Boston Herald | March 5, 2013
Boston Herald journalist Jill Radsken speaks with EGPAF Foundation Ambassador Jamie Gentille about growing up with HIV and her reaction to the news that a newborn in Mississippi was cured of HIV.
A young Boston woman born with the HIV virus said the news that an HIV-positive baby was cured with the help of UMass Medical School researchers 'gives a lot of people hope.'
'I'm praying on that,' said the woman, who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity.
There's still a stigma to having the disease, and the 24-year-old said her toughest battle is changing people's perceptions.
'If you tell someone, in their mind you got it from drugs or unprotected sex,' said the woman who participates in a work program at Boston Medical Center's SPARK (Supporting Parents and Resilient Kids) Center.
Trecia Mayo, the youth coordinator at SPARK, said she worries some young people will take news of the infant's cure as reason 'to not continue to have safe sex.'
'They'll say, 'Oh, it's not that big a deal. I can get a cure for the baby,' ' she said.
But Jamie Gentille, who's lived with HIV since a blood transfusion infected her at age 3, called the medical advancement 'amazing and inspiring.'
'It's a hint of what will be an AIDS-free generation,' the 33-year-old ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation told the Herald.
Gentille, who lives in Virginia and will self-publish her memoir, 'Surviving HIV: Growing Up a Secret and Being Positive,' later this month, is grateful for many of the medical advances that have made living with HIV more bearable. Unlike her early days when she took 'upwards of 20 pills around the clock,' she now takes only three. And contrary to early diagnoses that predicted she would die before becoming a teenager, she is now happily married and knows having her own healthy baby is more than a possibility.
'The progress we've made has been amazing,' she said.