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The Berlin Patient, Timothy Ray Brown honored with AIDS memorial

Brown is considered the first American to be cured of HIV/AIDS.

The Timothy Ray Brown “The Berlin Patient” Memorial Campaign consortium will dedicate a boulder in the National AIDS Memorial Grove to honor his life and journey during a ceremony on Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 9:30 am.

Timothy Ray Brown was an American considered to be the first person cured of HIV/AIDS. Brown was diagnosed with HIV while studying abroad in Berlin, Germany in 1995, and later developed acute myeloid leukemia. Brown underwent two stem cell transplants and discontinued his HIV therapy. By the end of 2007, it appeared that the treatment worked – both for his HIV and for his cancer. 

Brown was called “The Berlin Patient” at a conference in 2008, where his HIV cure was first announced, and after that he dedicated his life to supporting research to search for a cure for HIV. Brown’s leukemia recently returned, and he passed away on September 29, 2020.

To memorialize Timothy Ray Brown’s life and journey, a consortium of HIV/AIDS organizations collaborated to launch the Timothy Ray Brown “The Berlin Patient” Memorial Campaign. The Campaign raised funds to dedicate a memorial boulder with a touching inscription in the National AIDS Memorial Grove and a memorial bench and plaque in The Wellness Park adjacent to the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.

The coordinating consortium consists of the National AIDS MemorialLet’s Kick A.S.S. (AIDS Survivors Syndrome) Palm Springs (LKAPS), amfAR-The Foundation for AIDS ResearchDesert Healthcare District & FoundationHIV + AIDS Research Project-Palm Springs (HARP-PS), and Until There’s A Cure Foundation.

The consortium collaborated with Tim Hoeffgen, Brown’s life partner, in the effort. Hoeffgen said, “I am so happy that the HIV community and family and friends have joined together to memorialize Timothy Brown’s activism and legacy at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco and The Wellness Park in Palm Springs. Having these special places to remember and meditate on Timothy’s life is what I envisioned, and I am extremely grateful for this outpouring of support.”

Hoeffgen will be attending the dedication ceremony along with friends, consortium partner representatives, and Grove volunteers, who will help plant flowers around the boulder following the ceremony.  The boulder, located in the beautiful Redwood Grove near the Circle of Friends reads, “In loving memory of Timothy Ray Brown ~ The first person cured of HIV”.

The National AIDS Memorial Grove is at the heart of the National AIDS Memorial, which was created 30 years ago during the darkest days of the AIDS pandemic as a sacred 10-acre space of hope, healing and remembrance.  The memorial’s mission and programs have grown to include the 50,000 hand-sewn panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, important educational programs, storytelling initiatives and powerful events to ensure that the fight for health and social justice remain in the public spotlight today.

“The National AIDS Memorial holds the awesome responsibility to tell the story of the AIDS crisis and to ensure all lives lost are never forgotten,” said John Cunningham, CEO, National AIDS Memorial.

“Timothy Ray Brown is truly a hero and to have his name engraved upon a boulder in the Grove will ensure future generations will know how in life he touched so many.” 

Timothy moved back to the United States in 2010, and to San Francisco in 2012. Shortly thereafter, Timothy met his life partner, Tim Hoeffgen. The couple moved to Palm Springs in 2015.

Timothy Ray Brown (L) and Tim Hoeffgen

Over the last decade, Timothy became a visible and vocal advocate for HIV and cancer research. He traveled to many conferences around the world to tell his story and inspired researchers, activists, and patients living with HIV. He established the Washington, D. C.-based Timothy Ray Brown Foundation dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS. He also inspired the establishment of IciStem, a collaborative project to guide and investigate the potential for HIV cure by stem cell transplantation. In 2015, he published “I Am the Berlin Patient: A Personal Reflection”.  Timothy never again tested positive for HIV. His leukemia, however, relapsed last year and Timothy passed away on September 29, 2020. He was 54.

Timothy Ray Brown Campaign donations can still be made at the Campaign donation website, with 100% of the tax-deductible funds raised directly supporting the memorials and the work of the consortium organizations.  For more information, contact Campaign coordinator Jim McBride at (415) 793-2370 or jimmcbride59@gmail.com.

Queer Forty Staff

Queer Forty writing staff work hard to bring you all the latest articles to help inspire and inform.

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