’Berlin Man,’ Doctor Convinced HIV Cure is Real
ST. LOUIS - The first person reportedly cured of HIV said Wednesday he is hopeful that medical advances will allow others suffering from the virus that causes AIDS to be cured, too.
Timothy Ray Brown of San Francisco is known as "The Berlin Patient" because of where he was treated. He and the doctor who treated him, Gero Hutter, made their first joint appearance in the U.S. on Wednesday when Hutter spoke at a symposium on gene therapy at Washington University in St. Louis.
Scientists are studying whether gene therapy can be used to rid the body of HIV. Some doctors remain skeptical that Brown, 46, is cured. His case was first reported in the media in 2008 and described in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009.
Brown and Hutter, in an interview with The Associated Press during the symposium, said the passage of time is further proof that Brown is cured. Hutter cited the same five-year standard after which some cancer patients are said to be cured.
Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. In 2006, he also developed leukemia while living in Germany. Hutter performed a blood stem cell transplant using a donor with a rare gene mutation that provides natural resistance to HIV. Hutter said that resistance transferred to Brown.
Brown said he feels great, has not needed HIV medication since the 2007 surgery, and is now active in a foundation named for him that seeks a cure for HIV.
Brown grew up in Seattle and moved to Germany in 1993. After the HIV diagnosis, he started on medication to prevent him from developing full-blown AIDS.
He was attending a wedding in New York in 2006 when he became unusually tired. An avid cyclist, within weeks he could barely ride the bike and eventually was diagnosed with leukemia.