Born of Immigrants:
America is the land of opportunity. This could not be more true than in the case of Ho Da-i, born in the small village of Tai Chung on the island of Taiwan. Immigrating to the United States with his parents, Ho Da-i's parents wanted a name a bit more western for their son. They turned to the Bible, giving him the new name of David Ho.
Dedicated to the Fight Against HIV:
While David didn't know any English, he attended a high school in central Los Angeles, where he graduated with honors. From there he attended MIT and Cal Tech where he studied physics. Eventually he turned to medicine and molecular biology, where as a resident he witnessed some of the first documented cases of AIDS. It was then he decided to dedicate himself to combating the mysterious killer.
Figuring it Out.:
After HIV was identified, most researchers felt HIV lay dormant for years before causing illness in the infected person. Ho disagreed. Eventually, his research confirmed what he had believed all along. The virus didn't lay dormant at all. In fact, it continued to multiply uncontrolled often without causing any symptoms at all. While it multiplied, the immune system was damaged and weakened. It was then that symptoms would occur. Ho's discovery opened up important doors in the fight against HIV.
Early Treatment = Longer Lives:
Ho shifted his work from treating late in the illness to finding ways to fight the disease early on. Ho devised the method of treating HIV with "cocktails". He theorized that combining the powerful protease inhibitor drugs with other HIV medications would provide a more effective way to treat the disease. He was right. With his system of treatment, deaths due to AIDS started to decline. Because of this work, he was named Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1996.
His Work Continues:
At age 37, Ho was named Director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York City where he continues his work today. Currently one area of his work looks at ways to block HIV entry into CD4 cells, a field of work that could lead to a whole new way to treat and hopefully defeat HIV.