Berlin patient: The first patient to be cured of HIV, passed away aged 54
Timothy Ray Brown, who made history as “the Berlin patient”, the first person known to be cured of HIV infection, has died.
Mr. Brown was given a bone marrow transplant from a donor who was naturally resistant to HIV in 2007.
Brown died on Tuesday at his home in Palm Springs, California, according to a social media post by his partner, Tim Hoeffgen.
The cause was a return of cancer that originally prompted the unusual bone marrow and stem cell transplants Brown received in 2007 and 2008, which for years seemed to have eliminated both his leukemia and HIV, the virus that causes Aids.
The International Aids Society said Mr. Brown gave the world hope that an HIV cure was possible.
“Timothy symbolized that it is possible, under special circumstances,” to rid a patient of HIV – something that many scientists had doubted could be done,” said Gero Huetter, the Berlin physician who led Brown’s historic treatment.
“It’s a very sad situation” that cancer returned and took his life because he still seemed free of HIV,” said Huetter, who is now medical director of a stem cell company in Dresden.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Brown said “I’m still glad that I had it,” he said of his transplant. “It opened up doors that weren’t there before,”
With these words, Brown inspired scientists to work harder to find a cure.
A second man, Adam Castillejo – called “the London patient” until he revealed his identity earlier this year – also is believed to have been cured by a transplant similar to Brown’s in 2016.
On the other side, at an Aids conference in July, researchers also said they may have achieved a long-term remission in a Brazil man by using a powerful combination of drugs meant to flush dormant HIV from his body.