Hattiesburg, Miss., September 18, 2013 - University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Hannah Gay, who has gained worldwide recognition for finding a functional cure for an HIV-positive infant, presented the first University Lecture of the 2013-2014 academic year at William Carey University on September 17 in Tatum Theatre. Following the presentation, Dr. Gay spoke to WCU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine students and conducted a question and answer session.
Dr. Gay is known worldwide for helping to find a functional cure of HIV for a child that has been nicknamed “The Mississippi Baby.” This child, born in 2010, is now three years old and has been off of HIV medications for 18 months. Tests continue to confirm that there are no signs of the virus in the child’s system. The hypothesis she gave for this success story is that starting the baby on triple drug therapy at 30 hours of age helped prevent viral reservoirs (that contain the HIV virus) from forming. As Dr. Gay stressed to Carey’s medical students, “Benjamin Franklin’s quote that ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is the understatement of the century. If there is a way, always work for prevention!”
Dr. Gay, who is quick to admit she is the “shyest pediatrician in all America,” believes God must have a sense of humor to choose her to be a part of this discovery that led her to be named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” The Jackson native has spent the majority of her academic and professional career at the University of Mississippi, where she received her undergraduate and medical degrees and also met her husband, Paul, of 37 years. Except for the six years Dr. Gay and her husband spent working in Ethiopia as a missionary, she has devoted most of her career to helping babies and young children suffering from HIV. From her time in Ethiopia, she learned a phrase that she repeated in her lecture: “Let the glory go to God.” Dr. Gay is a firm believer that while this case brought about some amazing scientific discoveries, she is not the one who should take credit.
“I didn’t do it,” she said. “God did it. I just happened to be standing close by at the time.”
Dr. Gay will continue to visit various locations around the world to share her experience, including a lecture at the Oxford Union in Oxford, England.