MANY ORGANISATIONS providing care to HIV patients, including AIDS Society of India (ASI), Intern-ational AIDS Society and others, mourned the demise of Timothy Brown, the first person in the world documented to be cured of HIV.
Known as the ‘Berlin Patient’, Timothy Brown was cured of HIV in 2008 after undergoing a complex stem cell transplant for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a type of blood cancer.
Brown was living with a recurrence of the cancer for the past six months, and it had spread to his spine and brain. He was, however, free of HIV. Dr Ishwar Gilada, ASI president and IAS governing council member, while passing the condolence resolution, said, “We owe Timothy and his physician, Dr Gero Hütter of the Berlin University Hospital, a great deal of gratitude for opening the door for scientists to explore the concept that a cure for HIV is possible.”
Brown, living with HIV and AML, received a bone marrow transplant in Berlin in 2007. The donor was matched in a way that he was naturally resistant to HIV infection because of a mutation in the CCR5 gene, a critical protein required by HIV to enter and infect cells. Dr Hutter stopped Brown’s antiretroviral therapy soon after the transplant and he remained free of any detectable virus. In other words, he was cured of HIV.
This prompted a range of efforts by researchers and institutions focusing on HIV cure research. The IAS took an initiative in 2011 to establish
‘Towards an HIV Cure’ to promote and facilitate the search for a safe and affordable cure.
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