You are here

Cakes, candles and a wish for a cure for all

It might strike you odd that someone would celebrate being HIV free. Perhaps more understandable though if that person had once been diagnosed HIV-positive. To date, Timothy Ray Brown (aka the Berlin Patient) is the only person to have been cured of HIV. Before blowing out candles on a specially made cake, Brown said: “It happened, and it was a hard survival. But I’m here.” Around him a group of researchers, activists and people living with HIV cheered. The celebration was held in Seattle, Boston, at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI).

Unable to attend the conference, Gero Hutter, the German doctor who cured Brown, sent a videotaped message explaining the significance of the event. “Timothy’s case, as a proof of principal, has changed a lot in the field of HIV research,” said Hutter. “Timothy is the motivation for hundreds of researchers and activists to go forward to the big target that HIV/AIDS can be cured.”

Brown was diagnosed HIV-positive in Berlin, Germany in 1995. A year later, with the arrival of antiretroviral therapy, he commenced treatment. Then, in 2006 Brown was diagnosed with leukaemia. After chemotherapy failed, Dr Hutter suggested a stem-cell transplant. Hoping to kill two birds with one stone, Hutter used a donor who was naturally resistant to HIV. The procedure very nearly didn’t happen with Brown initially refusing to be a “guinea pig” for what would be a world-first operation. In the event, the transplant went ahead on 7 February 2007. Brown stopped taking HIV treatment on the same day; three months later HIV was no longer found in his blood.  

Ten years on, Brown’s case continues to inspire cure research. As for the man himself, he has embraced his role as a symbol of hope and the search for a universal cure has become a life-long mission. “I know in my heart and soul that I will not be the only one cured of AIDS,” said Brown. “We are committed to helping end this dreaded disease once and for all.”

 

 

latest news

March 7, 2017
“For me, being told that I couldn’t have children was harder than the diagnosis itself."
March 7, 2017
"People in heterosexual relationships seem to think that HIV could never affect them — but it does.”
March 1, 2017
In a major breakthrough, scientists in Geelong have discovered a protein that could prevent HIV. 
February 1, 2017
This is a film that delves into a not-too-distant time when the gay community was devastated by HIV/AIDS.
January 30, 2017
Sydney's Albion Centre is providing free mindfulness sessions for people living with HIV.
January 24, 2017
A survey is being conducted to better understand the experience and challenges of living with HIV.
January 17, 2017
During the holiday break, the HIV community sadly lost one of its most beloved leaders.
January 17, 2017
Young heterosexual people living with HIV are among the most isolated in the positive community.
January 12, 2017
PrEP will be made available to 2,000 Queenslanders at risk of HIV this year; access sites are recruiting now. 
January 9, 2017
The Positive Living team would appreciate it if you could find the time to complete a short online survey. 
December 16, 2016
Four, simple, practical actions you can take to stay happy, healthy and connected over the holiday season.
December 12, 2016
MyLife+ is a world-first app for PLHIV, with unique tools to help PLHIV take more control of their health.
December 7, 2016
It's a story we hear less often. but one that deserves to be heard. Two women with HIV share their stories. 
December 6, 2016
Gaëtan Dugas — the man dubbed ‘Patient Zero’ has, after more than three decades, been exonerated.
December 6, 2016
The last few years has seen a monumental shift in the way people living with HIV see ourselves.