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World's first patient cured of HIV dies

John Silk with Reuters
September 30, 2020

Timothy Ray Brown has passed away after battling leukaemia 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.

Timothy Ray Brown
Image: Manuel Valdes/AP/picture-alliance

Timothy Ray Brown, the first person known to have been cured of HIV, has died in California after relapsing with cancer, his partner announced on social media.

"It is with great sadness that I announce that Timothy passed away ... this afternoon surrounded by myself and friends, after a 5 month battle with leukaemia," Tim Hoeffgen said in a Facebook post.

Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 while working as a translator in Berlin. Then, in 2006, he was also diagnosed with a type of blood cancer known as acute myeloid leukaemia.

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Berlin Patient

Born March 11, 1966, Brown became known as the "Berlin Patient" when his HIV was cured after undergoing extensive treatment in the German capital in 2007. The leukaemia was eradicated too.

Brown's plight, and subsequent recovery, inspired a generation of HIV doctors as well as patients infected with the virus that causes AIDS, offering a glimmer of hope that an eventual cure could be found.

Adeeba Kamarulzaman, president of the International AIDS Society, said he would mourn the loss of Brown "with a profoundly heavy heart."

"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," said Kamarulzaman, who is also a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of Malaya.

Dr. Hütter had the notion that transplanting the marrow of a donor with a natural resistance to HIV could also defeat the virus in Brown's body, along with the leukaemia.

However, last week Brown confirmed he was suffering from a recurrence of the leukaemia that he suffered from in the mid-2000s, and that this time it was terminal.

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John Silk Editor and writer for English news, as well as the Culture and Asia Desks.@JSilk