The first dedicated HIV clinic in the United States opened January 1, 1983, on the sixth floor of Building 80 on the San Francisco General Hospital campus—hence the name Ward 86. Fast-forward 35 years: HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was, but Ward 86 continues to offer groundbreaking HIV/AIDS care.

“The impact of Ward 86 is profound,” says Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH, medical director of Ward 86, in an article from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). “Our work is shaping HIV care worldwide.”

One of the pioneering approaches adopted early on at Ward 86 was the San Francisco Model of AIDS Care. “The San Francisco Model demonstrates the power of integrating an entire community,” said Susan Ehrlich, MD, clinical professor and CEO of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. “At Ward 86, medical care, social services, science and emotional care combine to provide care in the most compassionate and effective way, and at the same time, end the epidemic.”

Today, the clinic continues to provide its influential care. San Francisco has made amazing strides in getting to zero new HIV cases, with new infections at a record low number. One of the city’s challenges today, however, is caring for the city’s aging HIV population and long-term survivors. To meet the needs of this demographic, according to the UCSF article, Ward 86 developed a specialty program called Golden Compass that includes care targeting brain, cardiology and memory health and offers social support.

Ward 86 was launched as a collaboration between UCSF faculty at the hospital and other local colleagues, notably Paul Volberding, MD, and Connie Wofsy, MD, according to a separate UCSF article on the history and accomplishments of the clinic.

In related news, Gandhi is cochair of the upcoming AIDS 2020 international conference slated to take place in San Francisco.