Timothy Ray Brown, the first person cured of HIV, has died of cancer. He was 54-year-old. Brown was known as “the Berlin patient” and was given a bone marrow transplant in 2007 which made him resistant to HIV.
Brown died on Tuesday at his home in Palm Springs, California, according to a social media post by his partner, Tim Hoeffgen.
Brown was working in Berlin as a translator when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. Then in 2007, he developed a type of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukaemia. His treatment involved destroying his bone marrow, which was producing the cancerous cells, and then having a bone marrow transplant.
Gero Huetter, the Berlin physician who led Brown’s historic treatment wanted to try to cure the HIV infection as well by using a donor with a rare gene mutation that gives natural resistance to the Aids virus.
Brown’s first transplant in 2007 was only partly successful: his HIV seemed to be gone but his leukemia was not. He had a second transplant from the same donor in 2008 and that one seemed to work.
But his cancer returned last year. “I’m still glad that I had it,” he said of his transplant. “It opened up doors that weren’t there before and inspired scientists to work harder to find a cure,” Brown told the Associate Press.