The first person ever to be cured of HIV has died of cancer 25 years later. Timothy Ray Brown, 54, died Tuesday while ‘surrounded by loved ones’ after battling leukaemia since 2007.
He was cured of HIV the same year after receiving a bone marrow transplant aimed at tackling his cancer. His partner Tim Hoeffgen posted a tribute on Facebook and said that he will be dearly missed. ‘It is with great sadness that I announce that Timothy passed away,’ Hoeffgen said. ‘You’re my angel now. I love you forever Tim!
Brown’s cure meant he no longer needed anti-viral drugs and remained free of HIV for the rest of his life. He was diagnosed with HIV – once a killer virus that meant almost-certain death – in 1995 just as powerful new treatments for the disease became available. ‘Tim committed his life’s work to telling his story about his HIV cure and became an ambassador of hope,’ Hoeffgen said. ‘Tim also gave numerous blood and tissue samples to researchers after his cure.’
It was Brown’s cancer which led to him being cured of HIV after he was given a bone marrow transplant from a donor who was naturally resistant to the virus. The bone marrow transplant Brown received had what is called a CCR5 gene, which gives people resistance HIV. CCR5 is a set of genetic instructions that build the doorway that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) walks through to infect cells.
Doctors have said that this cure is too risky to be used on every patient, and it is also too expensive for the 38 million people thought to be living with HIV. Modern treatments are so effective that people can live a normal life expectancy even without a cure. The International Aids Society (IAS) said it was mourning with ‘a profoundly heavy heart.’
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