Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Berlin Patient

Not surprisingly a number of you had good questions about the 'Berlin Patient', now known to be a U.S. citizen named Timothy Ray Brown, who was apparently cured of AIDS in 2007.

I found a really nice set of FAQ at WebMD that addresses a lot of the obvious questions (How was he cured? Will this cure work on other people etc). It is important not to underestimate the medical procedures required for a bone marrow transplant. Before the stem cell transplant he received chemotherapy treatment that destroyed most of his immune cells, as well as total body irradiation and received immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of the stem cells. In an interview with the German news magazine, Stern, Brown was asked if might have just decided to live with HIV rather than undergo this lengthy and difficult process. “Perhaps,” he answered. “Perhaps it would have been better, but I don’t ask those sorts of questions anymore.”

I looked up Magic Johnson and apparently he continues to take antiretroviral drugs:

Johnson says he's anything but cured. He says he owes his well-being — and quite possibly his life — to the multidrug cocktail he takes everyday.

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