Timothy Ray Brown, who became known worldwide for being the first person to be cured of HIV, died on the afternoon of September 29 in California, in the United States, of cancer, at the age of 54. The information came from his boyfriend Tim Hoeffgen, through a post on Facebook (via UOL).
“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.” – he said.
The president of the International AIDS Society, Adeeba Kamarulzaman, made a statement about Brown’s death:
“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”.
Brown was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006 and his doctor, Gero Huetter, a specialist in blood cancer from the University of Berlin, suggested that a marrow transplant was the best option, since the chemotherapy sessions weren’t helping him, and that he could also try getting cured of HIV with the help of a donor who had a genetic mutation that provides resistance to the virus.
The idea was to destroy his immune system, replace the marrow and create a new defense mechanism, exterminating leukemia and HIV. The experience was partially successful, since HIV was eliminated from his body, but leukemia wasn’t. They did a second transplant with the same donor in order to beat cancer.
Even though he felt proud and honored to have been the first patient to be cured of HIV, Brown says that he is only a pioneer, and that he doesn’t want to be the only one cured. “There is a lot of pressure on me” – he said in an interview to Huffpost Brasil – “I’ve been giving interviews like these and ended up feeling that I needed to be a certain kind of person. Nowadays I feel freer: I live in Palm Sprigs and feel like I can do whatever I want to do. At the beginning, I set some boundaries for myself regarding what I could do, but then I rejected those boundaries”.