Timothy Brown

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Seattle man cured of AIDS, aka ‘Berlin patient,’ steps into limelight | 

Tom Paulson

Timothy Brown, Berlin patient, at press conference during AIDS 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The only person on the planet to have ever been cured of AIDS, former Seattle resident Timothy Ray Brown, has become sort of a poster boy of the International AIDS Conference.

Scientists have been emboldened by Brown’s case enough to be talking about the possibility of curing AIDS — once only a call heard by activists. The big AIDS confab this year is full of a lot of such talk, of big ambitions and ideas, but there’s nothing perhaps more ambitious than a cure.

“I’ve decided to become more public to dedicate my life, my story, to the search for a cure,” Brown said. “I want to just be the first of many people to be cured of AIDS.”

Brown, 46, once known only as the “Berlin Patient,” was cured of HIV infection by virtue of receiving a bone marrow transplant for leukemia in 2007.

The donor immune cells he received while living in Germany happened to contain two genetic mutations that block the AIDS virus from entering cells, thus ending HIV’s ability to do what it needs to do to survive.

“If it wasn’t for my doctor in Berlin who took a chance on an alternative therapy, I wouldn’t be standing here today,” Brown said. What he meant is that his physicians in Germany were willing to try something few American doctors would even consider — tweak an already risky and often very difficult procedure to make it a double whammy that attacks both cancer and AIDS. Continue reading