Timothy Ray Brown, known as the “Berlin Patient”, is the first to be cured of HIV. He died of cancer. the International AIDS Society (IAS) Announced Wednesday.
Brown wrote a medical history and became a symbol of hope for the tens of millions of people living with the AIDS-causing virus when it was cured more than a decade ago.
He had lived with recurrence of leukemia for several months and was being cared for in a hospice at his Palm Springs, California home.
“On behalf of all of its members … IAS offers its condolences to Timothy’s partner Tim and his family and friends,” said IAS President Adeeba Kamarulzaman.
“We owe much gratitude to Timothy and his doctor Gero Hutter for opening the door to scientists to explore the concept that a cure for HIV is possible.”
During his studies in Berlin in 1995, Brown was diagnosed with HIV. A decade later, he was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.
To treat his leukemia, his doctor at Freie Universität Berlin used a stem cell transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that made him naturally resistant to HIV in the hopes that both diseases could be eradicated.
It took two painful and dangerous interventions, but it was a success: In 2008 Brown was declared free from both diseases and initially referred to as a “Berlin patient” at a medical conference in order to preserve his anonymity.
Two years later, he decided to break his silence and became a public figure, giving speeches and interviews, and setting up his own foundation.
“I’m living proof that there might be a cure for AIDS,” he told AFP in 2012. “It is very wonderful to be cured of HIV.”
Ten years after Brown was cured, a second HIV patient – nicknamed “The London Patient” – was found to be in remission for 19 months after a similar procedure.
Adam Castillejo is currently HIV-free. In August it was reported that a Californian woman had no traces of HIV despite the lack of antiretroviral treatment.
She is believed to be the first person to be cured of HIV without undergoing risky bone marrow treatment.
Sharon Lewin, President-elect of the IAS and Director of the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, Australia, praised Brown as an “advocate and advocate” for a cure for HIV.
“It is the hope of the scientific community that one day we can honor his legacy with a safe, inexpensive, and widely available strategy to achieve HIV remission and cure it using gene editing or immune control techniques “, she said.
© Agence France-Presse