Perhaps the most important lesson of the past 20 years is that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has continued to escalate despite our greatest technological efforts. We've known the entire genetic code of HIV for more than 15 years, and we understand its biology. But humbly, we really don't understand enough—especially the intricacies of the way HIV interacts with the human body. HIV is simple by appearance, yet complex beyond our wildest dreams. A vaccine and a cure remain elusive.
The sad fact is that millions will die each year and the pandemic will continue to escalate. However, as a world community, we will persevere. Combined antiviral therapy promises longer and higher-quality survival for HIV-infected people, and cheaper regimens makes it likely that more of the world's infected population will live longer. Ultimately, research is our best hope.