First person cured of HIV shares devastating news

timothy ray brown berlin patient hiv
Timothy Ray Brown in 2019. Photo: AccessHIV/YouTube

Timothy Ray Brown, the first person ever cured of HIV, is sadly terminally ill after the return of the cancer that led to his history-making treatment.

Brown, a US citizen who previously lived in Berlin, found out he had HIV in 1995. Then in 2006, doctors diagnosed him with leukaemia while in Germany.


Doctors performed two complicated and life-threatening bone marrow transplants on Brown in 2007 and 2008.

They used stem cells from a donor with a rare gene mutation giving natural HIV resistance.

Since then, Brown repeatedly tested negative for HIV in a major scientific first. Scientists reported the donor’s HIV resistant cells had transferred to Brown.

Brown was known as the “Berlin Patient” and for years he’s helped doctors and scientists gain vital insight into HIV.

However, sadly, while he’s remained free of HIV, Brown told the Associated Press his cancer returned last year and has sadly spread.

He’s receiving hospice care in California, where he now lives.

Timothy Ray Brown wants fight for HIV cure to continue

Brown’s partner, Tim Hoeffgen, met him in 2013 and he’s stayed at Brown’s side ever since. He described Brown as “a person you can’t help loving. He’s so sweet.”

He said Brown had also become an “ambassador of hope” in the decades-long fight against HIV.

“[Doctors haven’t found] HIV in his bloodstream since he was cured. That’s gone,” he told the Los Angeles Blade.

“This [illness] is from the leukemia. God, I hate cancer.

“The hardest part has been seeing Timothy go downhill. The cancer treatments have been rough. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worse than the disease.”

Hoeffgen told the publication Brown plans to fight the cancer as long as he possibly can.


“I have asked him what he wants me to tell people when we make his situation public,” he said.

“He said, ‘Tell people to keep fighting. Fight for a cure for HIV that works for everyone. I never wanted to be the only one.’

“I love him so much, I will gladly carry his message and his legacy.”

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