Skip to main content

A Transformation 20 Years in the Making

During the week of World AIDS Day in 2017, we announced that the AIDS Research Institute evolved into The HIV Institute to better reflect the comprehensive nature of our work spanning research, education and clinical care. 

This represented much more than a name change. It pays homage to major scientific advances made at and through our institution that have transformed a once-fatal disease into a manageable condition that can be controlled and prevented from progressing to AIDS. UC San Diego investigators and care providers have brought breakthroughs from the laboratory bench to patients’ bedsides and have played a vital role in redefining the standards of HIV care.

“Much progress has been made in HIV/AIDS research since the disease was first recognized in 1981,” Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement earlier this year. “Today, lifesaving antiretroviral therapies allow those living with HIV to enjoy longer, healthier lives—an outcome that once seemed unattainable.”

Today’s epidemic is much different from 36 years ago. As such, we wanted our Institute to reflect today’s science, as well as the terms our community uses to talk about HIV. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), more people in the United States are living with HIV than with AIDS. Now many of the people living with HIV with whom we work across the nation use the term “HIV” more often than “AIDS” to discuss themselves and the wider HIV community.

“Our name change reflects the fact that we have progressed from coping with a terminal disease burdened by substantial stigma to a manageable infection for which 20 million people are receiving treatment globally. By no means is the problem of HIV infection solved. Transmission continues, increasing numbers of people are living with HIV infection, treatment is not accessed by half of the people who need it, more effective prevention is needed, and disease complications persist. High-priority research objectives include the development of a vaccine and identifying approaches to a cure. Critically important challenges for research and treatment will continue for years, and a new generation of investigators and care providers will be needed. Nonetheless, the advances we have made in AIDS treatment clearly represent one of modern medicine’s most remarkable achievements. Hundreds of investigators and care providers at the UC San Diego HIV Institute remain committed to revolutionary and innovative research, to fostering the next generation of leading physician-scientists and to relentless dedication and leadership towards a cure.” Dr. Douglas D. Richman, Director of the UC San Diego HIV Institute.