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First Person Cured of HIV

First Person Cured of HIV

Did you realize that 30 million people have died from HIV in the 30 years since the disease was discovered? Or that the disease spreads at the rate of 7,000 people per day globally? Pretty staggering statistics that seem to get fewer headlines than the latest celebrity scandal.

In the 90s anti-retroviral drugs were developed that transformed the disease from quickly lethal to more manageable, and the illness could be lived with for decades. But treatment is very expensive, and unrealistic for millions of people who have the disease.

But amidst all the discouraging news is a surprising and heartening story–that of the first man to be functionally cured of HIV. Timothy Ray Brown had both acute myeloid leukemia and HIV. As the leukemia spread through his bone marrow, he was forced to undergo chemotherapy and then a stem cell transplant. When the disease flared up again, he required another stem cell transplant.

What was unusual about the transplant donor is that he was immune to HIV. (Scientists say 1 percent of Caucasians are immune to HIV, some theorize that  the trait may be passed down from ancestors who became immune to the plague centuries ago; or that the trait was passed down from people who became immune to a smallpox-like disease.) Although the transplant was to treat the leukemia, an incredible thing happened. His HIV went away.

“He has no replicating virus and he isn’t taking any medication. And he will now probably never have any problems with HIV,” his doctor Gero Huetter told Reuters.

Although Brown’s story is amazing, scientists say that bone marrow transplants can be fatal, and it’s impossible for Brown’s treatment to be used for everyone in the world living with HIV. However, the discovery does encourage “cure research,” according to experts, something that many people never believed would be possible…

 

Read more: General Health, Global Healing, Health, HIV/AIDS, News & Issues, ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

79 comments

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1:24AM PDT on May 26, 2012

This is much like getting a correct vaccine for the virus. What is odd, is that a bone marrow transplant is what provided the correct recognizing antibodies to the virus. This is the part that should be researched. HIV is a retrovirus, meaning once aquired, always infected. Much like the Herpes Simplex I virus(also a retrovirus), that is why once infected, one will always get a cold sore when feeling run down for the rest of ones' life.

4:26PM PDT on Oct 11, 2011

This is amazing. How did I not hear about this on the news?!

4:36PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

I always thought the first person cured of aids was Magic Johnson!

3:01PM PDT on Jun 23, 2011

It's so nice to know that AIDS is no longer the certain killer that it was, for many reasons.

2:38AM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Thank you for informing us.

12:34AM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Oh, man. This ought to be front page news on all the major papers. This is great news! Too bad we can't find the 1% who are immune, and have them become donors of some sort.

3:13PM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

This is amazing news!!!! TY

9:26AM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

I agree with Lupe... how has this NOT made headline news??

But its an amazing, inspiring story nonetheless! Thanks for sharing!

8:01AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

This is amazing news! It's like the plot of a horrible zombie movie come true (One immune person becomes the cure)! How has this not made big world news?!

5:57PM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

I have sent food supplements to an orphanage group in Cambodia where they have quite a percentage of children with HIV/AIDS. There have been children who were not responding to retro-virals and when these children were given the nutritional supplement, their downhill spiral was stopped.

When was this first discovered? About 1983. Why was it not picked up by the Pharmaceutical industry? One can not patent natural products, they have to be made artificially to be patentable and only the natural stuff works.

In 1971 it was discovered that a natural plant based substance from a certain type of seaweed gave the body the capacity to rid itself of Breast Cancer. Why is this commodity not being used for this purpose? It can't be artificially manufactured to actually work. It is FOOD, not a drug which will be toxic and must have an LD capacity. (lethal dose) Meanwhile millions can die for want of using life saving FOOD through the lack of certain important nutrition requirements. Is it expensive? Of course. BUT, Money is more important than lives.

We all make excuses that something is TOO expensive to get to keep our bodies healthy but we are ready to spend !,000s to keep our cars running. We think they are more important than keeping our bodies running at their best. Sometimes we get what we deserve and not what we actually need. The Government will pay the Drug Companies with OUR tax money and we think we get it for a cheap price? The Easter Bunny lays Easter Eggs too.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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