Timothy Ray Brown, the first person cured of HIV, died Tuesday in California following a battle with cancer.
“It is with great sadness that I announce that Timothy passed away at 3:10 pm this afternoon surrounded by myself and friends, after a 5 month battle with leukemia,” Tim Hoeffgen, Brown’s longtime partner, said in a Facebook post Tuesday.
It is with great sadness that I announce that Timothy passed away at 3:10 pm this afternoon surrounded by myself and…
Brown, 54, was first diagnosed with HIV in 1995 while living in Berlin, according to BBC.
In 2007, he developed acute myeloid leukemia, which required him to have a bone marrow transplant, per the same report.
The treatment was risky, requiring doctors to destroy Brown’s own bone marrow, which was producing the cancerous cells, and then transplanting new bone marrow. (RELATED: Inmates 4 Times More Likely To Have HIV Than General Population)
The transfer came from a donor that had a rare gene mutation called CCR5 which resists AIDS-causing viruses, according to Reuters.
While the initial transplant was successful in curing Brown of both HIV and leukemia, Brown suffered a relapse of leukemia this year. The cancer spread to his spine and brain, and Brown was moved to hospice care in his California home, per the same report.
“Tim committed his life’s work to telling his story about his HIV cure and became an ambassador of hope,” Hoeffgen’s post read.
“I am truly blessed that we shared a life together but I’m heartbroken that my hero is now gone,” he continued. “Tim was truly the sweetest person in the world.”
The International AIDS Society said they owed Tim gratitude for paving the way toward a new kind of treatment.
“We owe Timothy and his doctor, Gero Hütter, a great deal of gratitude for opening the door for scientists to explore the concept that a cure for HIV is possible,” Adeeba Kamarulzaman, president of the International AIDS Society, said in a statement.
It is with a profoundly heavy heart that the IAS bids farewell to Timothy Ray Brown, the first person to be cured of #HIV. Known as the “Berlin Patient”, Timothy was cured in 2008 after undergoing a complex stem cell transplant for lymphoma. Our statement: https://t.co/wcAFwTP7K5 pic.twitter.com/HpIwbp1pcr
— IAS – International AIDS Society (@iasociety) September 30, 2020
There are more than 38 million people worldwide infected with HIV.