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The first person to be cured of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown — known as the “Berlin Patient” – has died after a battle with cancer, the International Aids Society announced Wednesday.

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Brown made medical history and became a symbol of hope for the tens of millions of people living with the virus that causes AIDS when he was cured more than a decade ago.

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He had been living with a recurrence of leukaemia for several months and received hospice care at his home in Palm Springs, California.

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“On behalf of all its members… the IAS sends its condolences to Timothy’s partner, Tim, and his family and friends,” said IAS President Adeeba Kamarulzaman.

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“We owe Timothy and his doctor, Gero Hutter, a great deal of gratitude for opening the door for scientists to explore the concept that a cure for HIV is possible.”

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Brown was diagnosed with HIV while was studying in Berlin in 1995. A decade later, he was diagnosed with leukaemia, a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

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To treat his leukaemia, his doctor at the Free University of Berlin used a stem cell transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that gave him natural resistance to HIV, hoping it may wipe out both diseases.

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It took two painful and dangerous procedures, but it was a success: in 2008 Brown was declared free of the two ailments, and was initially dubbed “the Berlin Patient” at a medical conference to preserve his anonymity.

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