Saturday, June 11, 2011
He had HIV. Now he does not.
Timothy Brown had HIV. Timothy Brown also had leukemia, twice. Timothy Brown is no longer sick, Mr. Brown is a healthy 45 year old translator who lives in San Francisco and is currently quite possibly the most studied human being in the planet.
When Dr. Gero Hütter, a specialist in blood cancers in Berlin came across Timothy's very unique case of HIV and Leukemia, he chose to think outside the box, he brought an option to the table that was revolutionary, even though "revolutionary" was not what they saw, that was the option for a man who needed help, it was a long stretch but a possibility none the less. For a man who had been fighting two diseases at once had gone through all the procedures in the book, anything was valid as long as it meant getting his life back. Well here was an option that could literally give him his life back. With a very bold concept in his hands, Dr. Hütter took the plunge and so did Mr. Brown, they chose to go for a brand new procedure, where they would transplant stem-cells with a Delta-32 mutation into Timothy's sick body. These very rare mutated cells are found mostly in people in northern Europe, and they are basically 99.9% resistant to the HIV virus, so by doing this very unconventional transplant, Dr. Hütter reprogrammed Timothy's immune system, and not only got rid of his Leukemia, but also his HIV.
Now ask yourself, had you heard about this before you read my blog? And if so, how many more people you know, heard about it too? Because Mr. Brown has been HIV and Leukemia-free for more than four years, and only now this has come to my attention. New York Magazine has published a six-page article on this case, they have even given it headline on their cover, however they haven't given it the actual cover. The New York Times has written a couple of pieces on this story too, but they were buried in some section that you would never read unless you are one of those people who read the entire newspaper back to back or are particularly interested in medicine. This is truly preposterous!
Why the world doesn't know that a man has been cured from HIV, i don't understand. I do understand that this man's cure is not the cure for the disease, it is a very complicated and expensive procedure, it caused Mr. Brown to have complications, and it could lead to death. But it hasn't. This particular case is revolutionary, even if it isn't a vaccine or a medication that ends HIV, it could certainly lead to one. The concept here is fresh and refreshing and was only possible because Dr. Hütter wasn't a skeptical, he allowed himself to try and seek new possibilities, while every other HIV researcher had very little to no belief in the cure.
These aren't the times to fool around, HIV research has reached amazing levels and advanced so fast that people now have access to this revolutionary treatment that allows them to live almost as if they didn't carry the virus, and the littlest advance in this field is like a giant step forward. What i also did not know, was that there was little to no money being sent to the research for the cure of HIV. Now pay attention because this is where it gets tricky: the money was being put into research for medication, ways to improve the quality of life and immunodeficiency, but not necessarily to kill the virus. Researchers from around the globe have grown skeptical after one of the most publicly discussed attempts to cure HIV failed, and that was also when millions of dollars were pulled from the "cure" research and that word became practically a blasphemy in the medical community.
When it was scientifically proven that Timothy Brown was cured, there were still people who
could not believe it, and to this day, even though everyone agrees that Timothy is the first person to be cured from HIV, this subject is the big white elephant in the room. So why should we allow it to be? Why can't we bring it to the table and turn it into a topic for discussion? Why can't we put it on facebook and twitter, why can't we write about it in news papers and magazines? Well, we can. This subject needs to be addressed, it is our job to make this a public as possible, because if we were able to cause so many changes via the social network and the media, i am sure we could also get people's attention to the research for the cure of HIV.
Let's all speak up about this subject, let's show the people who have money in their pockets where they should be sending their money to. Let's send money ourselves, let's speak up ourselves, who better to start a movement than you and me? This is the time when everyone and anyone has a voice, this is one of the best things the internet has made for us, it has given us a voice, so let's use it wisely, let's spread the word and make this world a better place.