LONDON (KTLA) -- A man who suffered from both Leukemia and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) stunned doctors when he underwent a unique type of bone marrow transplant that seemed to cure him of his HIV.
Timothy Ray Brown, known as the "Berlin Patient" received a bone marrow stem cell transplant in Berlin, Germany in 2007. The transplant reportedly came from a man who was immune to HIV as 1% of Caucasians reportedly are. Several years later, he appears to be free of the disease.
"He has no replicating virus and he isn't taking any medication. And he will now probably never have any problems with HIV," his doctor Gero Huetter told Reuters. Brown now lives in the Bay Area, and suffers from some mild neurological difficulties after the operation.
As the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the virus once known as a death sentence looms, Brown's story gives scientists hope for the future of the disease. The results of Brown's transplant do not represent a universal cure because the genetic mutation that causes HIV immunity is rare and most often found in people of European descent,but advancements in medical technology and a pressing need to cut costs are encouraging the discovery of a cure for more of the some 33.3 million people with HIV worldwide.
The development of anti-retroviral drugs in the 1990s transformed the disease from a sudden killer to a less violent disease that could be managed over time. According to Reuters, HIV patient care in developing countries costs around $13 billion a year -- a figure expected to triple 20 years.
HIV-Positive Man 'Cured' By Rare Bone Marrow Transplant
HIV has taken the lives of 30 million people since as the discovery of the disease reaches its 30th anniversary this week.
HIV virus particles (Getty Images / June 5, 2011)
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