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The "Berlin Patient" and a Cure for HIV: Advocates, HIVers and Community Members Weigh In

 

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The end of the 21st century's first decade saw a number of promising, if tentative, steps toward the end of the HIV epidemic. The most intriguing development of the lot has got to be the story of the "Berlin patient," now out to the world as Timothy Ray Brown, who appears to be the first person ever to be cured of HIV infection. Read on and find out what members of the HIV/AIDS community think of this case -- and share your own opinions in the comments section of this page.

  Keith Alcorn, Senior Editor, NAM/aidsmap.com; From "Stem Cell Transplant Has Cured HIV Infection in 'Berlin Patient,' Say Doctors"

"['Berlin patient' Timothy Ray] Brown suffered two relapses and underwent two stem cell transplants, as well as a serious neurological disorder. ... The neurological problem led to temporary blindness and memory problems. Brown is still undergoing physiotherapy to help restore his coordination and gait, as well as speech therapy. ... On being asked if it would have been better to live with HIV than to have beaten it in this way he says 'Perhaps. Perhaps it would have been better, but I don't ask those sorts of questions anymore.'"
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Brandon Lacy Campos Brandon Lacy Campos, Advocate and Blogger, TheBody.com; From "A Cure for HIV?"

"All signs are pointing to a shift of this miracle from the Hand of God type to the scientific discovery type, but there are still too many 'what ifs' standing between Timothy Ray Brown and a cheap and effective cure that, for example, will be easily available to people living and dying from AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa."
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Thomas DeLorenzo Thomas DeLorenzo, Advocate and Blogger, TheBody.com; From "I'm Not Cured Yet"

"One of the other keys to this discovery is the location. The patient was an American living in Germany. Had he been an American living in the U.S., he would have not received such long-term, high-cost therapy. I am sure his insurance company would have cut him off long ago."
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Keith Green Keith Green, Project Director for Two HIV Prevention Studies

"STOP PLAYING POLITICS WITH MY MOTHER-FUCKIN' LIFE. I'm very excited about what took place with this patient. But, first: We don't know how this will play out in healthy HIV-positive folks, and there's this 5 percent chance that something could go fatally wrong. I assume a greater risk by getting into my car and driving within five miles of my own house.
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Ibrahim Ibrahim, Student and Blogger, TheBody.com; From "Is It Time to Celebrate the 'Cure'?"

"Waking up from this ordeal to find out that he not only survived leukemia, but also became HIV negative again, what changes occurred in [the Berlin patient's] behavior? How does he view the world from now on? Being poz is an identity ... and to lose it would have an impact similar to when you first acquire this identity. It is not a headache that you wake up from and feel happy that it is not punching your head anymore; HIV is a virus that changes your entire interaction with others and with your body."
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Candace Y.A. Montague Candace Y.A. Montague, Blogger, D.C. Examiner and TheBody.com; From "Tentative HIV 'Cure' Presents a Guarded Sense of Hope"

"Dr. Michael Saag, researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham says, 'We can't really apply this particular approach to healthy individuals because the risk is just too high. Especially when drugs can keep HIV in check in most cases. Unless someone with HIV also had cancer, a transplant would not likely be considered.' Still, most doctors are excited about the news of a potential cure. No one is probably more excited than Timothy Brown who took a risk and in return has been given a second chance at life."
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  Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic, From "The Berlin Patient," on The Daily Dish

"I remain in awe of the science and the scientists involved in all of this. Sometimes we really ought to take stock and comprehend the sheer magnitude of the current successes of science. I literally live and breathe because of them."
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Got thoughts on Timothy Ray Brown's experience, and what it means in the grand scheme of global HIV/AIDS? Know of another related story on the Web? Share opinions and links in the comments section below.


Reader Comments:

Comment by: Keepwalking (Johannesburg) Fri., Feb. 4, 2011 at 8:47 am EST
Even in resource constrained Africa, the idea of HIV cure on the horizon brings hope and keeps us going
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