More than two decades ago when Dr. Julio Montaner began research on HIV/AIDS, little was known about an epidemic that was believed to be a death sentence.

Today, people with the illness and access to treatment are living into old age, thanks in no small measure to breakthroughs — medical and social — that have come out of Vancouver’s research community.

“We’re pretty proud of the accomplishments we have achieved over the last three decades,” said Montaner, a researcher with the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

“A lot of that has to do with being at the right place and the right time.”

In the 1980s, which Montaner refers to as the “dark era,” the life expectancy of someone with AIDS was little more than 10 years.

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