Dr. David Ho Reflects on Working Toward Peace

I feel extremely privileged to work on AIDS. As a young physician in Los Angeles in 1981, I was fortunate enough to witness the beginning of the visible part of the AIDS epidemic. Over the course of a year, young men, one after another, appeared at the hospital with a multitude of opportunistic infections, leading to death within days to weeks. It was evident that their immune systems were damaged. But by what? Their medical histories strongly suggested the possibility of a sexually transmitted agent that caused immunodeficiency. And yet, any description of a similar syndrome was nowhere to be found in the medical literature. The disease was obviously new!
In this manner, AIDS appeared insidiously and mystified doctors and scientists alike. No one could have predicted that nineteen years later, we would face a global epidemic of HIV infection that is arguably the plague of the millennium. Today, HIV continues to spread at an alarming rate of sixteen thousand new cases per day, and several hundred million infections are expected by the end of the decade. For a biomedical scientist, what could represent a greater opportunity than to conduct research on a lethal microbe that threatens the health and stability of the entire world?
How we respond to the AIDS crisis is also a measure of our care for one another. Even if an AIDS vaccine is developed-our only real hope of averting an unparalleled medical disaster-it will require an extraordinary effort of political will among our leaders to get it to the people who need it most. It is my profound hope that we can rise to the challenge.



Resources for Teachers and Students