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HIV Cure Article

Page history last edited by Naug 12 years, 6 months ago

June 5, 2011 7:37 PM

Doctors claim to have "functional cure" for HIV

Thirty years ago from Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control issued the first report on the emerging AIDS epidemic. Now, after years of progress in holding back the disease, there is finally an apparent case of one successful cure.


CBS News correspondent Hank Plante, with San Francisco affiliate KCBS, reports that 45-year-old Timothy Ray Brown, now living in the Bay Area, tested positive for HIV back in 1995, but now has entered the scientific journals as the first man in world history to have his HIV completely eliminated from his body. It's what doctors call a "functional cure."


He was living in Berlin, Germany, in 2007, dealing with HIV and leukemia, when scientists there gave him a bone marrow, stem cell transplant that had astounding results.


"I quit taking my HIV medication on the day that I got the transplant and haven't had to take any since," Brown says, adding that his diseases are effectively gone.


In fact, his only medical problem these days is one involving his speech and motor skills because of neurological damage after the treatment, but that's getting better.


"The Berlin Patient," as Brown is known, received stem cells from a donor who was immune to HIV. In fact, about one percent of Caucasians are immune to HIV. Some say it goes back to the Great Plague; People who survived the plague developed an immunity, and that immunity was passed down to their heirs today.


Brown says being the first man to be cured of HIV makes him very, very happy.


Needless to say, Brown is now being monitored by doctors at San Francisco General Hospital and here at UCSF, where we sought out a medical opinion from one of the most respected AIDS researchers in the world, Dr. Jay Levy, who was one of the co-discoverers of the HIV virus.


"If you're able to take the white cells from someone and manipulate them so they're no longer infectable by HIV, and those white cells become the whole immune system of that individual, you've got essentially what we call a functional cure," Dr. Levy says.


We also sought out a medical opinion from Dr. Paul Volberding, another pioneering AIDS expert, who has studied the disease for all of its 30 years.


"One element of his treatment, and we don't know which, allowed apparently the virus to be purged from his body. So its going to be an interesting, I think, productive area to study," Dr. Volderding says. "He hasn't had any recurrence now for several years I think of the virus, and that hasn't happened before in our experience."


Timothy Brown's radical procedure may not be applicable to many other people with HIV, because of the difficulty in doing stem cell transplants, and finding the right donor. But this one case does open the door to the field of "cure research," which is now gaining more attention.


"I'm cured of HIV," Brown says. "I had HIV, but I don't anymore."


Those are words that so many in the scientific community are now cautiously clinging to.


© 2011 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.



If they have a "functional cure," why have they not used it more?   Do you believe he is HIV free?  Should he still disclose his HIV status to his partners?

Comments (20)

wikiuser0189 said

at 5:45 pm on Apr 17, 2012

They have not used it more because it is expensive and difficult to find matching donors. There are so many affected people in the world, and not enough people waiting in line to donate bone marrow and stem cells for them. I am skeptical as to whether or not he is completely HIV free or if he just isn't showing any symptoms and has a high t-cell count. I think it would be extremely wrong of him to keep his HIV status private. He should share it with sexual partners and continue to use protection just in case the virus isn't completely cured, or if he can transmit it. I think this is very interesting but impractical and hopefully a more convenient cure is found soon.

wikiuser0212 said

at 12:40 pm on Apr 18, 2012

They have not used it more because it was luck that this match up happened. it is very difficult to find the rightt donor let alone doing the actual stem cell procedure. it was only coincidence that this match up occured. I believe anything is possible and even if it may be a rare case to become free, it can still happen, which apparently it did. Yes he should disclose it because they have a right to know and it may only be suppressed and not gone forever.

wikiuser0202 said

at 10:54 pm on Apr 18, 2012

They probably do not use it more because they are not sure of the long term effects. Also the procedure is probably expensive and the fact that the donor was immune to HIV is very lucky but not many people would know if they have immunity to HIV. I do not think he is HIV free because such a mutated virus would not be so easy to get rid of. its more likely that it is just dormant for the time being. For safety reasons, i think it would be best if he were to make sure his past was known by all his future partners, and leave the decision of pursuing a relationship to them.

wikiuser0195 said

at 11:40 pm on Apr 18, 2012

The doctors probably havent used it because it could be a lot money or the man had luck. If his tests are coming back negative than yes i do believe he is HIV free but I would let your partners know just in case. He might be HIV free but maybe it could come back. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

wikiuser0187 said

at 7:43 am on Apr 19, 2012

The doctors probably don't want to use it yet because they don't know if i could be safe or not. It could also have to do with him just getting lucky. I do believe that he is HIV free because if he is not showing any signs of it anymore and the doctors can't find anything then it must be true. I do believe that he should tell his future partners about it because he did have it, but not anymore. So there is still a chance that maybe it could come back.

wikiuser0183 said

at 10:21 am on Apr 19, 2012

the doctors are using it more because they have only tested it once it could have been luck and if they try it again then it could have a very harmful effect.

wikiuser0197 said

at 7:30 pm on Apr 19, 2012

I am unsure if he is actually completely cured. I find it hard to believe HIV can just "go away." Like wiki 0189 said, maybe his symptoms just arent showing. If he chooses to engage in sexual activity he should tell his partner just to be safe, and avoid putting others in danger. I think the doctors havent used this "cure" more often because of the expenses, and also because it may still be unsafe.

wikiuser0203 said

at 7:34 pm on Apr 19, 2012

Finding the right donor is very difficult, especially with all the people infected with the disease. Also the stem sell transplant is hard to do and does have side effects. Just because it worked once out of luck, doesn't mean it will always work. I don't think he is 100% HIV free, i feel like it can possibly come back at any point, if i were him i would definitely still tell my partner that i once had it.

wikiuser0188 said

at 7:47 pm on Apr 19, 2012

I believe that he is completely free of HIV. I feel as if he was indeed lucky though. In the article it states that only 1% of caucasion's are actually immune to HIV. He was very lucky in that case to get this person's bone marrow. He should still tell his sexual partners that he was HIV positive. And I would highly recommend that he always wear a condom.

wikiuser0196 said

at 8:47 pm on Apr 19, 2012

They haven't used it more because it's so expensive and hard to find a donor that has the immunity to the virus. I don't think that he is cured. I think that the new white blood cells that he has can't be affected but the HIV infection is still in his body. Also, this treatment isn't used because the process makes you sicker before you can get better and some people infected with HIV can't handle what it does to your body so the cancer treatment will be fatal. Yes, he should tell his partners that he is HIV positive because even though his symptoms are gone, his body is still caring it and its so easily transferred.

wikiuser0209 said

at 11:41 pm on Apr 19, 2012

They are not using it because of the high possibility or symptoms ending in death. I think he is cured, but believe that he should be able the find sexual partners without being judged on a disease he no longer has.

wikiuser0207 said

at 2:56 pm on Apr 20, 2012

I don't think that they are using the functional cure more because it is extremely difficult to find a suitable donor. Also, Brown's case involved other confounding variables like his leukemia that could have only had a result on him. I do not believe that Brown is HIV free either; it is possible that the virus now is dormant. Even though tests reveal that Brown is negative, I think that he should still disclose his status. It is better to be safe than sorry, and easier to tell your partner of your history than deal with the guilt if you infect them.

wikiuser0191 said

at 7:51 pm on Apr 20, 2012

I think that their functional cure isn't very functional if it causes other problems. I personally do not believe that Brown is not 100% HIV free especially because it's a virus and like Mono, the virus is always there although it is not present. Brown should definitely disclose the information to his partners since although he has no signs of the virus it is still there and can be transmitted.

wikiuser0181 said

at 10:21 pm on Apr 20, 2012

I believe that they do not use the "functional cure" that often because it is difficult to do stem cell transplants and it is also difficult to find the right donor. Timothy Brown was lucky enough to find the right donor. He also had other problems that he was dealing with at the time, such as leukemia. He happened to have everything work out for him, but not every other person with the HIV virus would be under the same circumstances. I believe that he may be HIV free, but he should still try to keep his immune system strong and continue to get checked. He should tell all his future partners that he was HIV positive because it is the right thing to do and it could possibly change someones life.

wikiuser0190 said

at 12:16 am on Apr 22, 2012

They dont probably use it more because it's expensive, it's hard to find a donor, and they're not sure of what could be some of the possible side effects of it. Maybe he is cured but he could still pass the virus to others. And I think that he should still disclose his HIV status to his partners to make sure if they have it or not.

wikiuser0200 said

at 8:45 pm on Apr 22, 2012

They haven't used the discovery of the "functional cure" because the narrator above stated that it would be too difficult to do stem cell transplants and finding the right donor to achieve the procedure. I do believe Timothy is HIV free, because I do believe in miracles and think it's possible. I think he does have the complete right to disclose it from his partners, if doctors have proof of his cure and clearly see he's okay, then he should be fine and not worry.

wikiuser0184 said

at 9:47 pm on Apr 22, 2012

i think they haven't used it more because they don't want people to know about it and there won't be enough for everybody. i don't think the man is HIV free because its impossible. You can go on medication but, you cant get rid of it. he should still tell his partners about his "HIV being cured" because no of his partners would believe him if he said he was cured.

Naug said

at 7:55 am on Apr 24, 2012

Thank you.

Naug said

at 12:30 pm on Dec 11, 2012


wikiuser0240 said

at 1:55 pm on Dec 11, 2012

Even though he is "cured" of HIV, he should still tell his sexual partner because his spouse may of gotten the virus. I personally believe that he is not HIV free due to the fact that getting rid of the virus is not possible. Unfortunately, due to the high prices of having this treatment done to them, many people will have a hard time affording this and an even harder time at finding a donor.

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