Timothy Ray Brown, First man to be cured of HIV has passed away after battling cancer for five months, his partner said on Facebook. The American was the first known HIV patient to be cured after extensive treatment in Berlin in 2007.
According to the social media post by his partner Tim Hoeffgen, Brown died on Tuesday at his home in Palm Springs, California. The cause was a return of the 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.
“Timothy symbolized that it is possible, under special circumstances,” to rid a patient of HIV — something that many scientists had doubted could be done” Dr. Gero Huetter, the Berlin physician who led Brown’s historic treatment said.
“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, Germany.
The International AIDS Society, which had Brown speak at an AIDS conference after his successful treatment, issued a statement mourning his death and said he and Huetter are owed “a great deal of gratitude” for promoting research on a cure.
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 later, he decided to break his silence and went on to become a public figure, giving speeches and interviews and starting his own foundation.
“I am living proof that there could be a cure for AIDS,” he told AFP in 2012. “It’s very wonderful, being cured of HIV.”