The International Aids Society( IAS) has announced that the first person to be cured of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown who is also known as the “Berlin Patient” has died after a battle with cancer.
Brown made medical history and became a symbol of hope for the tens of millions of people living with the virus that causes AIDS when he was cured more than a decade ago.
He had been living with a recurrence of leukaemia for several months and received hospice care at his home in Palm Springs, California.
Brown was diagnosed with HIV while he was studying in Berlin in 1995.
A decade later, he was diagnosed with leukaemia, cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.
To treat his leukaemia, his doctor at the Free University of Berlin used a stem cell transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that gave him natural resistance to HIV, hoping it may wipe out both diseases.
It took two painful and dangerous procedures, but it was a success: in 2008 Brown was declared free of the two ailments, and was initially dubbed “the Berlin Patient” at a medical conference to preserve his anonymity.
Two years later, he decided to break his silence and went on to become a public figure, giving speeches and interviews and starting his own foundation.
Ten years after Brown was cured, a second HIV sufferer dubbed “the London Patient” was revealed to be in remission 19 months after undergoing a similar procedure.
The patient, Adam Castillejo, is currently HIV-free.
In August a California woman was reported to have no traces of HIV despite not using an anti-retroviral treatment.
It is thought she may be the first person to be cured of HIV without undergoing the risky bone marrow treatment.
Sharon Lewin, the president-elect of the IAS and director of the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, Australia, praised Brown as a “champion and advocate” of a cure for HIV.