Timothy Ray Brown, the first person known to be cured of HIV after having a unique type of bone marrow transplant, died in California after relapsing cancer, his partner said.
“It is with great sadness that I announce that Timothy has died … this afternoon, surrounded by me and friends, after a 5 month battle with leukemia,” said his partner Tim Hoeffgen in a post on Facebook.
Brown, born on March 11, 1966, became known as the “Berlin Patient” after his HIV treatment was eradicated in 2007 by treatment there.
The American’s case fascinated and inspired a generation of HIV doctors as well as patients infected with the AIDS-causing virus, and gave a glimmer of hope that one day a cure would be found that would eventually end the AIDS pandemic.
Adeeba Kamarulzaman, president of the International AIDS Society, said he would mourn Brown “with a deeply heavy heart.”
“We owe much gratitude to Timothy and his doctor Gero Huetter for opening the door to scientists to explore the concept that a cure for HIV is possible,” said Kamarulzaman, who is also a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Malaya University .
Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 in the German capital, and in 2006 he was also diagnosed with a type of blood cancer known as acute myeloid leukemia.
While Brown was free of HIV for more than a decade after treatment, his leukemia had relapsed last year. His doctors said the blood cancer had spread to his spine and brain, and he was recently in hospice care in his hometown of Palm Springs, California.
For Huetter, the German doctor who took care of him in 2007, Brown’s case was a shot in the dark. Treatment included killing Brown’s immune system and transplanting stem cells with a gene mutation called CCR5 that is resistant to HIV.
Only a tiny fraction of people – most of them are of Northern European descent – have the CCR5 mutation, which makes them resistant to the virus that causes AIDS.
These and other factors made the treatment Brown had expensive, complex, and very risky. Most experts say there could never be a way to cure all HIV patients as many of them would risk death from the procedure itself.
There are currently more than 37 million people infected with HIV worldwide, and the AIDS pandemic has killed approximately 35 million people since the early 1980s.
Medical advances over the past three decades have led to the development of combinations of drugs known as antiretroviral therapies that can keep the virus in check so that many HIV positive people can live with the virus for years.
A second HIV patient, Adam Castillejo, known as “The London Patient” until his identity was revealed earlier this year, is also believed to have HIV after a transplant in 2016, similar to Brown’s.
“While the Timothy and Adam cases are not a viable strategy for a large-scale cure, they represent a critical moment in the search for an HIV cure,” said Sharon Lewin, professor and HIV specialist at the Doherty Institute, Australia.
She said Brown was an “advocate and advocate maintaining an HIV cure on the political and scientific agenda,” added:
“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 reach and cure HIV.”
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)