Lifestyle & Belief

Cure for AIDS: Two men are HIV free, but "cure" wrong word


March participants head toward Capitol Hill with signs, chants, music, and a call to action for President Obama: keep the promise to end AIDS.


Emily Judem

Remember the “Berlin patient?”

In 1995 Timothy Ray Brown was diagnosed with HIV, a death sentence back then.

But Brown got lucky. He got leukemia, and in 2010 the Belfast Telegraph ran a story with this lead: “A 42-year-old HIV-infected man living in Germany has been cured, according to an American medical journal.”

Thus, the “Berlin patient.”

Now, NBC News is reporting two men diagnosed with HIV and leukemia may also be free of the human immunodeficiency virus.

The news broke at the 19th annual International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, which has been making news for a host of reasons

Doctors are quick to point out this treatment is not a viable way to solve the global AIDS crisis. And they are cautious about using the four-letter word the world so desperately wants to hear, "cure."

Like Brown, both men possessed a rare a genetic mutation that qualified them as candidates for the treatment.

“We’re never really going to be able to do bone marrow transplants in the millions of patients who are infected,” Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said, according to NBC News. “But if you can stimulate the virus and eliminate those cells, we can protect the remaining cells from being infected.”

Let's not forget bone marrow transplants are expensive, dangerous, painful, and matching donors are hard to come by, which the Telegraph points out.

According to Democracy Now!, Brown has inaugurate a foundation devoted to finding a universal cure for HIV.

"I believe this is something that gives hope to a lot of people with HIV and their families, and that’s very important to me," he said.