First Person To Be Cured Of HIV Dies Of Cancer

First person to be cured of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown - known as the 'Berlin Patient' - has died after a battle with cancer.
First person to be cured of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown – known as the ‘Berlin Patient’ – has died after a battle with cancer.

First person to be cured of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown – known as the ‘Berlin Patient‘ – has died after a battle with cancer.

International Aids Society (IAS) made the announcement on Wednesday, September 30.

The 54-year-old made medical history and became a symbol of hope for the tens of millions of people living with the virus that causes AIDS when he was cured more than a decade ago.

He had been living with a recurrence of leukaemia for several months and received hospice care at his home in Palm Springs, California.

IAS President, Adeeba Kamarulzaman stated;

On behalf of all its members… the IAS sends its condolences to Timothy´s partner, Tim, and his family and friends.

We owe Timothy and his doctor, Gero Hutter, a great deal of gratitude for opening the door for scientists to explore the concept that a cure for HIV is possible.

Brown was diagnosed with HIV while was studying in Berlin in 1995. A decade later, he was diagnosed with leukaemia, a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

To treat his leukaemia, his doctor at the Free University of Berlin used a stem cell transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that gave him natural resistance to HIV, hoping it may wipe out both diseases.

It took two painful and dangerous procedures, but it was a success: in 2008, Brown was declared free of the two ailments, and was initially dubbed “the Berlin Patient” at a medical conference to preserve his anonymity.

Two years after his successful treatment, he decided to break his silence and went on to become a public figure, giving speeches and interviews and starting his own foundation.

Speaking with AFP in 2012, Brown said;

I am living proof that there could be a cure for AIDS. It’s very wonderful, being cured of HIV.

However, while Brown remained clear of HIV for more than a decade after being treated, he had suffered a relapse of leukaemia in the past year.

Ten years after Brown was cured of HIV, a second sufferer — dubbed “the London Patient” — was revealed to be in remission 19 months after undergoing a similar procedure.

The patient, Adam Castillejo, is currently HIV-free. In August, a California woman was reported to have no traces of HIV despite not using anti-retroviral treatment.

It is thought she may be the first person to be cured of HIV without undergoing the risky bone marrow treatment.

Sharon Lewin, president-elect of the IAS and director of the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, Australia, praised Brown as a “champion and advocate” of a cure for HIV.

She said;

It is the hope of the scientific community that one day we can honour his legacy with a safe, cost-effective and widely accessible strategy to achieve HIV remission and curs using gene edition or techniques that boost immune control.

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