The 30-year fight against HIV/AIDS has brought out some of the better traits in us as researchers, and as a global society, write the Kirby Institute's John Kaldor and David Cooper in the Weekend Australian.

We were all doing other things when AIDS came out of nowhere 30 years ago, striking at the heart of the emerging gay communities in the US.

It only took a handful of cases to show that this new disease - which wrought lethal havoc on the immune system - was impervious to any known treatment and spread through sex, blood contact, and from mother to child.

Soon the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, was identified as the cause and found to be well established in many parts of the world. Many of us embarking on our research careers were drawn towards an intriguing scientific challenge, but could also sense there was a lot more to it. The sociopolitical dimensions of this new disease were as important to confront as the unravelling of its biological mysteries.

As the quest began for the magic bullets of a vaccine and a cure, the rule book on medical research was being rewritten in Australia and internationally.

Read the full opinion piece in the Weekend Australian.