The first known patient declared HIV free following a groundbreaking procedure has died, 12 years later, of cancer.
Timothy Ray Brown, known as “the Berlin patient,” succumbed to acute myeloid leukemia on Tuesday following a five-month recurrence, the International AIDS Society confirmed. He was 54.
In 2008, Brown was declared cured of HIV after undergoing a “complex” stem cell transplant for acute leukemia. The virus, which can lead to the development of AIDS, never resurfaced but the cancer did, invading his spine and brain, the Society stated.
According to the British Broadcasting Corp., Brown was born in the United States but was living in Berlin, Germany, when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. After developing acute myeloid leukemia in 2007, his treatment required obliterating his bone marrow, which was producing the cancerous cells, and receiving a bone marrow transplant from a donor deemed “naturally resistant” to HIV due to a “rare mutation in part of their DNA called the CCR5 gene.”
“I quit taking my medication on the day that I got the transplant, after three months there was no HIV anymore in my body,” Brown told the BBC in 2012.
Brown’s partner Tim Hoeffgen confirmed his passing on social media.
“It is with great sadness that I announce that Timothy passed away ... surrounded by myself and friends, after a five-month battle with leukaemia,” Hoeffgen posted on Facebook.
“Tim committed his life’s work to telling his story about his HIV cure and became an ambassador of hope,” Hoeffgen added.
According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, there are currently 38 million people living with HIV or AIDS, CNN reported.
“We owe Timothy and his doctor, Gero Hütter, a great deal of gratitude for opening the door for scientists to explore the concept that a cure for HIV is possible,” the International AIDS Society stated.
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