Timothy Ray Brown, long known only as the “Berlin Patient” had HIV for 12 years before he became the first person in the world to be cured of the infection following a stem cell transplant in 2007. He recalls his many years of illness, a series of difficult decisions, and his long road to recovery in the first-person account, “I Am the Berlin Patient: A Personal Reflection,” published in AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is part of a special issue on HIV Cure Research and is available free on the AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses website.
Brown’s Commentary describes the bold experiment of using a stem cell donor who was naturally resistant to HIV infection to treat the acute myeloid leukemia (AML) diagnosed 10 years after he became HIV-positive. The stem cell donor had a specific genetic mutation called CCR5 Delta 32 that can protect a person against HIV infection. The virus is not able to enter its target, the CD4 cells. After the stem cell transplant, Brown was able to stop all antiretroviral treatment and the HIV has not returned.
“This is the first time that we get to read this important story written by the man who lived it,” says Thomas Hope, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses and Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL. “It is a unique opportunity to share in the human side of this transformative experience.”