“Your baby did not die for nothing,” Rebekah said, looking up at the monitor so Kim would not see her tears. “Your baby was a messenger to us.”
This is how a friend who specializes in high-risk obstetrics attempts to comfort a grieving patient when she delivers a stillborn baby, as portrayed in my novel Catching Babies.
This bedside homily is small succor in the face of unspeakable devastation. But the idea that one family’s heartbreak will contribute to medical research and in some remote but real way help spare families in the future is often the only comfort an OB/GYN or nurse-midwife has to offer.
Which is all the more reason to celebrate this week’s tremendous news about HIV: this time, the messenger baby lived.
According to reports, an infant was born in Mississippi with the virus that causes AIDS, given aggressive doses of the anti-viral medications known to contain — not cure — the disease, and is now disease-free at two-and-half years old. It is the second known “cure” of an HIV-positive patient, and there are no words to describe how exhilarating it feels to read or type those words for anyone who came of age during, or lost friends to, the ugly and terrifying scourge of AIDS.
So take a moment to savor it. A baby with HIV has been cured. No viral load. Disease-free. Yes!