Our Unique History

A Unique Role in the San Francisco AIDS Office

Bridge HIV has been working to find new and innovative ways to fight HIV/AIDS since the start of the epidemic. Our history is tied to the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) City Clinic. From 1978-1982, City Clinic conducted several studies on hepatitis B among gay and bisexual men, including a clinical trial that led to the first licensed Hepatitis B vaccine in the United States. Because this same population of men was also heavily impacted by the AIDS epidemic, men in the hepatitis B studies were asked to participate in a new study of AIDS called the San Francisco City Clinic Cohort Study (SFCCC). Data from this study contributed to the discovery that AIDS was caused by a sexually transmitted agent.

Additional teams were formed by SFDPH to track the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic, begin prevention efforts and coordinate treatment services in San Francisco. Our group conducting the San Francisco City Clinic Cohort (SFCCC) Study, together with these teams, formed the original AIDS Office in the SFDPH.

Once AIDS was found to be caused by HIV, men in the SFCCC Study were asked for permission to test their stored blood samples for HIV antibodies. The tests revealed the history of HIV infection among some of these men, in some cases dating back to 1978. The SFCCC Study eventually became a world-renowned resource for understanding HIV infection and disease.

The original Hepatitis B research came from the long public health tradition of looking for preventative methods to stop disease. That tradition continues in our research today. Forty years later, we function as a grant-funded research unit of the SFDPH, Population Health Division. On a daily basis, we engage with diverse communities, participate in several global networks of research studies, and drive innovative HIV prevention studies.

In those early days, we helped to identify the leading risk factors for HIV infection, as well as the most common indicators of disease progression. Later, we developed into a clinical trials unit, testing a variety of HIV prevention strategies. San Francisco is unique in this regard: we are one of a few Departments of Public Health to feature its own HIV clinical research trials unit, participating alongside academic research departments.

We’re proud of our heritage and strive to conduct cutting-edge HIV prevention research likely to have substantial public health impact. Today, HIV-negative volunteers from the San Francisco Bay Area can participate in a variety of HIV prevention research studies.

Learn more about the studies we’re currently enrolling at or explore our research participation since our beginnings.