Opinion : How AIDS Ends: An Anthology from San Francisco AIDS Foundation - by Timothy Ray Brown

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join

Back to home » Opinion » November 2012

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

20 Years Ago In POZ

More Opinions

Click here for more news

Have an opinion about HIV? Send your thoughts to news@poz.com.


November 26, 2012

How AIDS Ends: An Anthology from San Francisco AIDS Foundation

by Timothy Ray Brown

The first man cured of HIV shares his experiences in a book excerpt.

Although the first cancer specialist I saw had a gut feeling that it wasn’t anything serious, a bone marrow biopsy yielded a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia. That was a bigger shock than finding out I had HIV. I was leery about going to the hospital, because my partner had been treated badly there after telling the nurses he had HIV. So the doctor made calls instead to a hospital linked with Berlin University—and he happened to get Gero Hütter on the phone. Gero said, “Send him over!” So I found out I had leukemia, and the next day I was in the hospital receiving chemotherapy.

Dr. Hütter was young, and in medical school he had learned that people with a certain genetic mutation, called CCR5-delta-32, are essentially immune to HIV because their cells lack an entry point for the virus. Before my third round of chemo, I’d had blood taken for a possible stem cell transplant to cure the leukemia, and Dr. Hütter found an unusually high number of matches for me. That gave him an idea: Why not look for a CCR5-negative donor? Would those stem cells essentially grow me a new immune system, uninfected with HIV?

…For people who receive stem cell transplants, the day of their transplant is called their “birthday.” On February 7, 2007, I had my first birthday. Three months after that, tests showed no sign of HIV in my blood. Dr. Hütter asked me if I would do a colonoscopy so they could look for signs of HIV in colon tissue; they didn’t find any.

That’s when I started to hear the word “cured.”

…But “cured” doesn’t mean “done.” I’m still a guinea pig, because I want people to learn from my experience. Just last week, I had a colonoscopy on Wednesday and gave blood on Friday. I’ve had about 15 bone marrow biopsies—the most painful thing in the world! I recently met a researcher who told me he has 6,000 of my blood cells in his lab fridge. Pretty weird, but pretty amazing.

…I’ve been asked to speak at meetings around the world, and I’ve seen my story give people a lot of hope—researchers pursuing a cure, after years of being afraid to even use the word, and people who are themselves living with HIV. It’s given scientists an idea of what’s possible. In fact, there are trials happening right now with gene therapies that are trying to prompt the CCR5 deletion, but without the painful and risky procedures I had. This approach gives me hope; I think gene therapies will be a big part of the answer to finding an end to HIV and AIDS, and to curing other diseases.

And because I want to be simply the first—not the only—person cured of HIV, I started the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation, the first organization in the history of the epidemic to focus exclusively on finding a cure. To mark my upcoming fifth “birthday,” I plan to hold the foundation’s first board meeting.

How AIDS Ends—an anthology by San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) with a foreword by President Bill Clinton—is being released for World AIDS Day and is available on Amazon.com. Contributors include Timothy Brown, Jeanne White Ginder, Cleve Jones, Barbara Lee, Mark Dybul, Paul Farmer, Robert Gallo, Mervyn Silverman, Diane Havlir, Scott Wiener, LZ Granderson, Hank Plante, Eduardo Xol and Neil Giuliano. They share their perspectives on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, their visions for how it ends and who they will remember when that day comes. The digital book will be available through Amazon and other online retailers for 99 cents. All proceeds from the book will support the free HIV prevention and care services of SFAF.

Search: San Francisco AIDS Foundation, SFAF, Timothy Brown

Scroll down to comment on this story.


(will display; 2-50 characters)


(will NOT display)


(will display; optional)

Comment (500 characters left):

(Note: The POZ team reviews all comments before they are posted. Please do not include either ":" or "@" in your comment. The opinions expressed by people providing comments are theirs alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart + Strong, which is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by people providing comments.)

Comments require captcha.
Please enter this number for verification:

| Posting Rules

Hide comments

Previous Comments:

  comments 1 - 1 (of 1 total)    

Sandy Swartz, Topeka, KS, 2012-11-27 12:56:53
I'm a 27 year PLWA (Person Living With AIDS) Survivor. This article gives me hope.

comments 1 - 1 (of 1 total)    

[Go to top]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Did you participate in an event for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2016?


more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.