I had the opportunity to visit Berlin, Germany last month. It got me thinking about the patient who was known as the Berlin patient who is one of the only patients known to be cured of HIV. His name is Timothy Brown. In 2007 he was diagnosed with leukemia and underwent a stem cell transplant from a donor who had what is called the CCR 5 – Delta mutation. The donor had inherited alleles from both parents and was immune to HIV. The donor was a German man, studying in New York City. He made 2 trips back to Germany to donate his bone marrow. Mr. Brown was cured of HIV with the first stem cell transplant however the leukemia reappeared, and he required a 2nd transplant. They decided to use the same donor. He had remained anonymous until 2010. He is now speaking worldwide about his experience.
Although this is not something that would be readily available to all patients, a stem cell transplant has only a 40% success rate. He requires radiation and chemotherapy which requires the patient to be very strong and strong-willed. The important thing to gain from this is that the patient has been cured of HIV. Scientists are continuing to work on gene therapy and other targets to attack HIV in hopes that there will be a cure someday.
Earlier in my career, I would never have used the word cure when it comes to HIV/AIDS. I’m grateful that we can now discuss this topic as a possibility and hope that the scientists will continue to search and find a cure.
Remember, Be Happy, Help Others,