Timothy Ray Brown

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Timothy Ray Brown
Brown in 2012
Born(1966-03-11)March 11, 1966
DiedSeptember 29, 2020(2020-09-29) (aged 54)
Known forFirst person cured of HIV/AIDS

Timothy Ray Brown (March 11, 1966[1] – September 29, 2020) was an American considered to be the first person cured of HIV/AIDS.[2][3] Brown was called "The Berlin Patient" at the 2008 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, where his cure was first announced, in order to preserve his anonymity. He chose to come forward in 2010. "I didn't want to be the only person cured," he said. "I wanted to do what I could to make [a cure] possible. My first step was releasing my name and image to the public."[4][2][5]


Timothy Ray Brown was born in Seattle, Washington, on March 11, 1966, and raised in the area by his single mother, Sharon, who worked for the King County sheriff's department.[6][1] He journeyed across Europe as a young adult and was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 while studying in Berlin.[7][4] In 2006, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. On February 7, 2007, he underwent a procedure known as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to treat leukemia[8] (performed by a team of doctors in Berlin, Germany, including Gero Hütter). From 60 matching donors, they selected a [CCR5]-Δ32 homozygous donor, an individual with two genetic copies of a rare variant of a cell surface receptor. This genetic trait confers resistance to HIV infection by blocking attachment of HIV to the cell. Roughly 10% of people of European or Western Asian ancestry have this inherited mutation, but it is rarer in other populations.[9] The transplant was repeated a year later after a leukemia relapse. Over the three years after the initial transplant, and despite discontinuing antiretroviral therapy, researchers could not detect HIV in Brown's blood or in various biopsies.[10] Levels of HIV-specific antibodies in Timothy Brown's blood also declined, suggesting that functional HIV may have been eliminated from his body. However, scientists studying his case warn that this remission of HIV infection is unusual.[11]

Brown, the "Berlin patient", suffered from serious transplant complications, graft-versus-host disease and leukoencephalopathy, which led researchers to conclude that the procedure should not be performed on others with HIV, even if sufficient numbers of suitable donors could be found.[12][13]

Eleven years later, at the same conference, it was announced that it appeared that a second man had been cured. He was called "The London Patient", who later identified himself as Adam Castillejo.[14] He also received a bone marrow transplant to treat a cancer (Hodgkin's lymphoma) but was given weaker immunosuppressive drugs. The selected donor also carried the CCR5-Δ32 mutation.[15][5]

As of 2017, six more people also appear to have been cleared of HIV after getting graft-versus-host disease; only one of them had received CCR5 mutant stem cells, leading researchers to conclude that when a transplant recipient has graft-versus-host disease, the transplanted cells may kill off the host's HIV-infected immune cells.[16]

Later life[edit]

In July 2012, Brown announced the formation of the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation in Washington, D.C., a foundation dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS.[17][18]

In September 2020, Brown revealed the leukemia that prompted his historic treatment had returned in 2019 and that he was terminally ill. Brown entered hospice care in Palm Springs, California, where he later died on September 29, 2020.[19] He was 54 years old.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Timothy Ray Brown, 'Berlin patient' cured of HIV infection, dies at 54". Washington Post. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Mary Engel (February 20, 2019). "Timothy Ray Brown: The accidental AIDS icon". Fred Hutch. Archived from the original on October 16, 2018. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  3. ^ Trudy Ring (September 7, 2012). "Is Anyone Immune to HIV?". HIVPlusMag. Archived from the original on March 9, 2016. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Timothy Ray Brown (January 12, 2015). "I am the Berlin patient: a personal reflection". AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses. 31 (1): 2–3. doi:10.1089/aid.2014.0224. PMC 4287108. PMID 25328084.
  5. ^ a b "berlin patient.pdf" (PDF). Dropbox. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  6. ^ Roberts, Sam (September 30, 2020). "Timothy Ray Brown, First Patient Cured of H.I.V., Dies at 54". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "HIV patient Timothy Brown is the boy who lived". L.A. Times. June 5, 2011. Archived from the original on April 22, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  8. ^ "German HIV patient cured after stem cell transplant". Belfast Telegraph. December 15, 2010. Archived from the original on December 22, 2010. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  9. ^ "Bone marrow 'cures HIV patient'". BBC News. November 13, 2008. Archived from the original on January 7, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2009.; Novembre, J; Galvani, AP; Slatkin, M (2005). "The Geographic Spread of the CCR5 Δ32 HIV-Resistance Allele". PLOS Biology. 3 (11): e339. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030339. PMC 1255740. PMID 16216086. open access
  10. ^ Allers, K.; Hutter, G.; Hofmann, J.; Loddenkemper, C.; Rieger, K.; Thiel, E.; Schneider, T. (2010). "Evidence for the cure of HIV infection by CCR5 32/ 32 stem cell transplantation". Blood. 117 (10): 2791–2799. doi:10.1182/blood-2010-09-309591. PMID 21148083.
  11. ^ "Web Exclusives : Transplanting Hope: Stem Cell Experiment Raises Eyebrows at CROI - by David Evans". Archived from the original on January 26, 2016. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  12. ^ Levy JA (2009). "Not an HIV Cure, but Encouraging New Directions". N Engl J Med. 360 (7): 724–725. doi:10.1056/NEJMe0810248. PMID 19213687. Archived from the original on February 15, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  13. ^ Lunzen, J.; Fehse, B.; Hauber, J. (2011). "Gene Therapy Strategies: Can We Eradicate HIV?". Current HIV/AIDS Reports. 8 (2): 78–84. doi:10.1007/s11904-011-0073-9. PMID 21331536. S2CID 43463970.
  14. ^ Davis, Nicola (March 9, 2020). "Second person ever to be cleared of HIV reveals identity". The Guardian. Archived from the original on March 9, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  15. ^ Apoorva Mandavilli (March 4, 2019). "H.I.V. Is Reported Cured in a Second Patient, a Milestone in the Global AIDS Epidemic". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 24, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  16. ^ Clare Wilson (May 6, 2017). "Immune war with donor cells after transplant may wipe out HIV". New Scientist. Archived from the original on December 8, 2018. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  17. ^ "Man "cured" of AIDS: Timothy Ray Brown". CBSNews. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  18. ^ "Miraculous Activist". The Scientist Magazine®. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  19. ^ Marilynn Marchione (September 25, 2020). "1st man cured of HIV infection now has terminal cancer". ABC News. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved September 25, 2020.; Mark S. King (September 25, 2020). "As Timothy Ray Brown faces death, a great love endures". Los Angeles Blade. Retrieved September 25, 2020.; "'The Berlin Patient': First person ever cured from HIV infection dies of cancer". www.abc.net.au. September 30, 2020. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2020.

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