American Timothy Ray Brown, who was in 2008 the first person to recover from AIDS, is fighting the cause this time not of AIDS but of the man known as the “Berlin patient” reaching the final stage of cancer, according to his friend.
Mark King, an activist and writer, said in an article he wrote last Tuesday on his blog about Tim Hovgen, a friend of Timothy, that the latter “does not die of AIDS… Let things be clear.” “AIDS has not appeared in Timothy’s blood” since 2008, King explained, as “it no longer exists”. “Now, it’s leukemia… Oh my God, I hate cancer.”
“Timothy Ray Brown (54 years old) is a person who can only be loved because he is kind,” said Huffington… The anti-cancer treatments were very severe… Sometimes I wonder if it’s worse than the disease.”
Mark King told AFP that he spoke to the two men by phone last Saturday, noting that Brown is receiving palliative care at his home in Palm Springs, California.
King quoted Brown as saying, “I will keep struggling so that I can no longer fight.” Brown appeared in one of the pictures with bedridden and skinny and without hair.
Brown lived in Berlin in 1995 when he knew he was infected with the virus. In 2006, he was found to have leukemia.
To treat him, his doctor at the University of Berlin planted stem cells from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that provided natural resistance to HIV. He hoped that the implant would be a cure for both diseases.
The doctor had to perform two transplants, with the difficulty and seriousness of such operations, but the bet was successful in 2008 when Timothy Ray Brown recovered from both diseases. The announcement of this development did not mention his name at the time, but rather described him only as the “Berlin patient”.
In 2010, Brown agreed to reveal his name publicly and has since become a public figure, giving statements, giving media interviews, giving lectures and participating in conferences.
He told AFP in 2012, “I am the living evidence that a recovery from AIDS is possible.”
Since 2008, only one cure has been announced, which occurred in March 2019 thanks to the same method, and the “London patient” who also returned and revealed his name, Adam Castellejo, survived.
Stem cell implants are not considered generalizable because of their difficulties and risks. The recipient’s immune system should be eliminated through a chemical treatment, in preparation for “replacement” of the donor’s immune system. This is not the case, because anti-retroviral treatments now allow people living with AIDS to live with it and have a normal life.