Americas

Saturday 26 July 2014

'Man who couldn't catch Aids' takes his own life, say family

Nick Collins

Published 17/09/2013|11:35

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Stephen Crohn, 66, who was once called "The man who can't catch Aids," committed suicide in New York.
Stephen Crohn, 66, who was once called "The man who can't catch Aids," committed suicide in New York.

A man whose genetic defect helped to further medical understanding of HIV, the virus that causes Aids, has died, his family said.

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Stephen Crohn, 66, who was once called "The man who can't catch Aids," committed suicide in New York.

His sister Amy Crohn Santagata told the New York Times: "My brother saw all his friends around him dying, and he didn't die.

"He went through a tremendous amount of survivor guilt about that and said to himself 'There's got to be a reason.' He was quite extraordinary."

Mr Crohn, an artist and freelance travel editor, was the great-nephew of gastroenterologist Burrill B Crohn, who was among the first to describe Crohn's disease.

He had begun caring for his partner Jerry Green in 1978 as his health deteriorated. Mr Green went on to be one of the first to to die from the disease that became known as Aids.

Doctors studied him and eventually established that his white blood cells had a rare defect which meant they would not allow the HIV virus in.

Dr Bruce Walker of the Ragon Institute, told the New York Times: "What he contributed to medical knowledge is really quite extraordinary.

"This is a classic case of medical science learning from patients. You take the extreme examples and try to see how those people are different from the average person with the disease."

Telegraph.co.uk

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