Sharon Lewin is the inaugural director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital; Melbourne Laureate Professor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne and an NHMRC Practitioner Fellow. She is an infectious diseases physician and basic scientist. Her research focuses on understanding why HIV persists on treatment and developing clinical trials aimed at ultimately finding a cure for HIV infection. She has published over 360 publications and given over 100 major invited talks on HIV cure. In 2019-2021, she was named a Clarivate Web of Science high citation researcher. She is President-Elect of the International AIDS Society (IAS) and co-chairs the IAS Global Advisory board for the Towards an HIV Cure initiative. She also leads the Australian Partnership for Preparedness for Infectious Diseases Emergencies (APPRISE), an NHMRC funded Centre for Research Excellence. Scientists from the Doherty Institute were the first outside of China to isolate and share the SARS-CoV2 virus globally in January 2020.

Until 2020, HIV was considered the most significant pandemic of the century. Infecting over 70 million people and resulting in 33 million deaths, the effects were initially devastating but have been dramatically improved with advances in treatment and prevention strategies. Several major challenges remain including access to treatment globally, persisting stigma and finding an effective vaccine or cure. In contrast to HIV, COVID-19 is a short lived illness but with the potential for long lasting medical complications. Given the global scale of disruption and health impacts from COVID-19, unimaginable resources were mobilized resulting in several highly effective vaccines within 12 months. Antiviral drugs took longer to develop but are now available, but only in high income countries. Both viruses have shone a light on equity as we have seen vulnerable groups disproportionately infected and affected by these two viruses. Looking to the future, far greater investment and global solidarity will be needed to ensure we are truly prepared for another pandemic virus. Tackling pandemics needs science and innovation but also community engagement and evidence-based political leadership – all components have been critical to minimizing the impact of both viruses. Hopefully, the silver lining in the COVID-19 response will be the transformative advances in other global health challenges such as HIV.