December 13, 2011 | by City of Hope Staff
This December is AIDS Awareness Month, and 2011 marks 30 years since the first cases of AIDS were detected. During the past three decades, more than 25 million people around the world have died of AIDS, though there are new signs of hope for stopping the epidemic.
Alexandra Levine, M.D., M.A.C.P., chief medical officer of City of Hope and deputy director for clinical programs of the cancer center, was on the front lines of the early fight against HIV/AIDS. As an expert in blood disorders, she was one of the first physicians to treat AIDS patients in the early 1980s.
The epidemic has had an enormous impact on her and the people she knew, she says. In a new video online, Levine speaks from the heart about the challenge of HIV/AIDS and the patients she lost — and helped — along the way. In this interview, she describes the remarkable medical and scientific progress that has been made in the past three decades.
“When I first saw my first cases of HIV 30 years ago, it was the biggest puzzle I had ever experienced in my life,” she says. “On the one hand, I was overwhelmed by the human tragedy of it — I was surrounded by it, surrounded by death. On the other hand, it was scientifically the puzzle of a lifetime …”
Interested in learning how City of Hope is trying to solve the HIV/AIDS puzzle through research? Read this Q&A with John J. Rossi, Ph.D., Lidow Family Research Chair in City of Hope’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.