"This is the beginning of the end of the AIDS epidemic," said Havlir.
While she warned that much work still must be done, the epidemic has crested. Havlir has been an HIV researcher and clinician in San Francisco since 1985, just as the epidemic began its tragic march. "In the '80s, we had no real treatment. A diagnosis was a death sentence," Havlir said. "It was a disease that seemed to be affecting a very young and stigmatized population. It robbed many people of dignity."
But after a decade of research, hope for a cure finally surfaced. "The moment we realized that something was working was astonishing," remembered Havlir.
Now Havlir is beginning to see the epidemic come full circle. Treatment has made it possible for those infected to live long and happy lives. Recent drug breakthroughs have revealed routes to prevention. And in 2010, a man was successfully cured of HIV for the first time through a stem cell transplant.