Our early research, which dates back to the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, played an important role in the identification of the HIV virus and the risk of transmission.
In 1978, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) City Clinic conducted several studies on sexually transmitted diseases, including a clinical trial vaccine for Hepatitis B among bisexual and gay men in San Francisco. Bridge HIV, formerly known as HIV Research Section, was founded to work on AIDS research in the early 1980’s. To help identify how HIV and AIDS were spreading, our group reexamined the blood samples from the Hepatitis B studies. With the study participants’ permission, we looked for the presence of HIV antibodies. In some of these samples, the tests revealed a history of HIV infection dating back as far as 1978. Remarkably, a small group of these men who tested positive have remained healthy – without needing anti-HIV medication. We still have much to learn from these men and our group continues to follow them.
The impact of these results was far-reaching, as it became a world-renowned resource for understanding HIV infection and disease.
To track the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic, Bridge HIV became part of the original SFDPH AIDS Office. Our focus is on researching the effectiveness of prevention strategies – including the use of different types of HIV vaccines and non-vaccine antiretroviral treatments – through clinical trials to reduce the impact of AIDS worldwide.