“I feel good,” Brown told ABC News. “I haven’t had any major illnesses, just occasional colds like normal people.”
Brown is the only person in the world to be cured of AIDS, the result of a transplant of blood stem cells he received to treat leukemia.
“My case is the proof in concept that HIV can be cured,” he said.
Brown got lucky. The blood stem cells he received came from a donor with a special genetic mutation that made him resistant to HIV. The genetic mutation occurs in less than 1 percent of Caucasians, and far less frequently in people of other races. Before Brown got his transplant in 2007, doctors tested nearly 70 donors for this genetic mutation before they found one who was a match.
But doctors hope that a similar solution could help other people with HIV: umbilical cord blood transplants.
Dr. Lawrence Petz, medical director of StemCyte, an umbilical cord blood bank, said although Brown was cured by his transplant, the process was complicated because the blood stem cells came from an adult donor.
“When you do that you have to have a very close match between donor and recipient,” Petz said. “With umbilical cord blood, we don’t need such a close match. It’s far easier to find donor matches.”
But it’s still not that easy. Petz and his colleagues have tested 17,000 samples of cord blood so far, and found just 102 that have the genetic HIV-resistant mutation. The team performed the first cord blood transplant on an HIV-infected patient a few weeks ago, and they have another transplant planned for a similar patient in Madrid, Spain, later this year. It will still be months before researchers can tell if the transplants have any effect on the patients’ HIV.
Petz also noted that transplants aren’t performed solely to treat AIDS. Patients who get them have an additional condition that requires a blood stem cell transplant. Curing their AIDS would be an incredible bonus.
“It can be done. It’s just a matter of time,” Petz said.
Brown had his transplant in February 2007. Today, his body shows no signs of the virus.
Brown said he feels guilty being the only person to have been cured of the virus when millions still live with it. But he hopes his story will inspire others that a cure is possible.
“I don’t want to be the only person in the world cured of HIV. I want a cure for everyone,” he said.
Posted by Chris Geidner |
May 31, 2012 10:45 AM | Permalink
Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act — the federal definition of “marriage” and “spouse” — is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court in Boston ruled today. The decision by a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States, is the first instance of a federal appellate court striking down any portion of the 1996 law.
Writing that “Supreme Court review of DOMA is highly likely,” the appeals court has stayed, or put on hold, the implementation of its decision pending any appeal.
Judge Michael Boudin, appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush, wrote for the court: “[M]any Americans believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and most Americans live in states where that is the law today. One virtue of federalism is that it permits this diversity of governance based on local choice, but this applies as well to the states that have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage. Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest.”
The decision follows oral arguments that were held in the cases on April 4. Today’s decision upholds U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro’s July 8, 2010, decision finding the federal law defining marriage as consisting of only one man and one woman to be unconstitutional.
In these cases, the appeal of which were heard together on April 4, the lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Mary Bonauto, was joined in opposing the law by two government lawyers: Department of Justice Civil Division Chief Stuart Delery and Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Civil Rights section chief Maura Healey.
Because DOJ stopped defending Section 3 of DOMA in February 2011, the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — controlled 3-2 by Republicans — voted to defend the law. Paul Clement, a lawyer for Bancroft PLLC, was hired to do so, and was the sole lawyer defending the law in Boston on April 4.
Although some of the parties seeking to strike down the law had urged that the court apply a form of “heightened scrutiny,” similar to the examination courts make to laws classifying people based on race or sex, for example, the court held that it was limited by its own earlier decision in a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” challenge, as well as the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has not chosen to use a higher standard of review yet.
In the absence of heightened form of scrutiny, courts traditionally seek only a rational basis to uphold the validity of a law. Looking at a series of cases that “stressed the historic patterns of disadvantage suffered by the group adversely affected” — most recently, the Romer v. Evans challenge to Colorado’s anti-gay Amendment 2 — the court noted another route: “These three decisions did not adopt some new category of suspect classification or employ rational basis review in its minimalist form; instead, the Court rested on the case-specific nature of the discrepant treatment, the burden imposed, and the infirmities of the justifications offered.”
Applying this standard — sometimes called “rational basis with teeth” — the court held that none of the potential reasons for upholding Section 3 of DOMA passed constitutional muster.
As to the federalism principles — questions relating to the allocation of powers between and among the federal government and the states — that were primarily advanced by Massachusetts in its case, Boudin wrote for the court, “In our view, neither the Tenth Amendment nor the Spending Clause invalidates DOMA; but Supreme Court precedent relating to federalism-based challenges to federal laws reinforce the need for closer than usual scrutiny of DOMA’s justifications and diminish somewhat the deference ordinarily accorded.”
After examing the potential justifications offered by BLAG, the court held, “Several of the reasons given do not match the statute and several others are diminished by specific holdings in Supreme Court decisions more or less directly on point. If we are right in thinking that disparate impact on minority interests and federalism concerns both require somewhat more in this case than almost automatic deference to Congress’ will, this statute fails that test.”
Boudin did so despite holding that the court “do[es] not rely upon the charge that DOMA’s hidden but dominant purpose was hostility to homosexuality.”
Boudin was joined in the decision by Chief Judge Sandra Lynch, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, and Judge Juan Torruella, appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said today of the decision, “There’s no question that this is in concert with the president’s views.” He went on to note that the Department of Justice participated in the oral arguments defending its view that Section 3 is unconstitutional.
BLAG will now need to decide if it wishes to ask all of the judges of the First Circuit to review the decision en banc — which Bonauto noted in a conference call today is unlikely due to the fact that the small size of the court, five active judges, makes reversal extremely unlikely — or whether it immediately move to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case in a process called certiorari.
A second DOMA challenge, Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, is on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is scheduled for oral arguments in early September. It was struck down by Judge Jeffrey S. White earlier this year. A third DOMA decision, in Dragovich v. Department of Treasury, was issued on May 24, striking down Section 3 of DOMA as it impacts the ability of same-sex couples to participate in a California pension fund program.
Additionally, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has a pending challenge, McLaughlin v. Panetta, and the Southern Poverty Law Center has its own challenge, Cooper-Harris v. United States, challenging DOMA’s application to servicemembers and veterans’ benefits. Both are still at the trial-court stage.
READ the opinion: Gill-FirstCircuit.pdf
[Photo: Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders lawyer Mary Bonauto, left, apeaks with reporters along with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), right, and her Civil Rights Division chief, Maura Healey, outside the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston on April 4, 2012. (Photo by Chris Geidner.)]
We are making progress and I could not be more thrilled!!!!!!! Found this story on FB posted by author Ann Rice who is a wonderful defender of LTGB rights
This is a great story if you ask me, my wonderful wife stumled across this and it is pretty ironic if you ask me. I have nothing against republicans, it is purley a difference of political opinons. This story to me highlights the fact that if more people where honest with themselves the world would be a better place.
Image by tedeytan
Rainbow flags adorn apartment windows and bar entrances in many San Francisco neighbourhoods, with nearly every bar and business in the Castro catering to gays and lesbians. Pride Week is capped by the often-outrageous ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Pride Parade’ – where half a million people party in the street on the last Sunday in June. Also in June is the long-running queer film festival.
Image by acon online
Hey, in Sydney gay is the new straight. Gay and lesbian culture forms a vocal, vital, well-organised and colourful part of Sydney’s social fabric. Host of the 2002 Gay Games, Sydney also plays host to Australia’s biggest annual tourist event – the Mardi Gras. The joy-filled hedonism-meets-political-protest parade is attended by more than half a million people. Beach life also reigns here, so boys should buff up before hitting the sand.
Image by Dominic’s pics
Perhaps it’s Brighton’s long-time association with the theatre, but for more than 100 years the city has been a gay haven. The vibrant queer community is made-up of 40,000 residents – almost a quarter of the total population. Kemptown (aka Camptown) is where it’s all at, with a rank of gay-owned bars, hotels, cafés, bookshops and saunas. There’s even a ‘Gay’s the Word’ walking tour.
Image by cgeorgatou
Touted as the gay and lesbian capital of Europe, partisan estimates put the proportion of gay and lesbian people in Amsterdam at 20% to 30%. Though the figures are probably exaggerated, there’s no underestimating the number of venues for gays and lesbians. There are more than 100 bars and nightclubs, gay hotels, bookshops, sport clubs, choirs and support services. Amsterdam hosts the only water-borne gay-pride parade in the world, held on the canals on the first Saturday in August. Even bigger is Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) on 30 April around the Homomonument – dedicated to those who were persecuted by the Nazis for their sexual preferences.
Image by jÖrg
Berlin’s legendary liberalism has spawned one of the world’s biggest gay and lesbian scenes. Openly gay mayor Klaus Wowereit outed himself with the now-popular words: ‘I’m gay, and that’s a good thing’. As befits Berlin’s decentralised nature, the city has no dedicated gay ghetto although it contains a number of established scenes. Huge crowds turn out in early June for Schwul-Lesbisches Strassenfest (Gay-Lesbian Street Fair), which is basically a warm-up for Christopher Street Day later that month.
Do as the Love Boat used to, and dock in the world famous resort town of Puerto Vallarta. The gay scene here is pumping, with accommodations, tours, cruises and a variety of venues all catering to the gay market. Meet amigos in town (with cobblestone streets and red-roofed adobe-style buildings) at one of the many martini bars, strip clubs or drag shows. And strut or sloth on one of the glorious white-sand beaches.
New York’s Chelsea and Greenwich Village are synonymous with gay life, possessing a thriving out-there scene. A number of quieter clubs and bars continue to flourish further uptown in Chelsea as well. Every scene, from art to fashion, is hot in New York – and the gay scene is no exception, with great galleries, bars and clubs. June sees the obligatory Gay Pride parade attracting revellers from around the world.
During Carnaval (February or March), thousands of expatriate Brazilian and gringo gays fly in to take part in the fun, with transvestites stealing the show at most balls. Outside Carnaval the gay scene is active, though less visible than in cities such as San Francisco and Sydney. The gay capital of Latin America is a mostly integrated scene, with the Entertainment sections of local newspapers and magazines branding establishments ‘GLS’: Gays, Lesbians and Sympathisers.
The beguiling bohemian city of Prague inspired Kafka to warn visitors: ‘this little mother has claws’. Its maze of medieval lanes keeps a bevy of bars catering to all fancies: from leather through to rent boy. The cradle of Czech culture, Prague also stages a gay and lesbian film festival annually in November. Despite the city’s wholesale acceptance of same-sex partnerships, there’s a segregated gay scene, and public displays of affection are generally ill advised.
There’s no ‘gay movement’ as such in Bangkok, as there’s no antigay establishment to move against. Thai culture is generally accepting of male and female homosexuality; however, public displays of affection per se are mostly frowned upon. The fairly prominent scene centres on the proliferation of bars, often enlivened by high camp cabaret.
Lonely Planet guides are also gay-friendly, containing information on the gay and lesbian establishments you can visit on your trips. Buy our guides here.