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30 years after founding Minnesota's first AIDS clinic, he's optimistic a cure is near

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Minnesota's first clinic for HIV/AIDS patients marked its 30th anniversary this month and one doctor's been there for all of those years.

Keith Henry founded what's now the Positive Care Center at Hennepin County Medical Center. He tells the HCMC newsletter that in the early years it was nearly overwhelming to see so many young people suffer through AIDS complications that would lead to death.

But he's seen dramatic changes with the development of medications and treatments that can control the spread of HIV and prevent AIDS deaths.

The clinic was in St. Paul when it first opened its doors in 1985 – a time when fear and misinformation about AIDS were rampant, MPR News reports.

Henry tells the network the first time he lost a patient to AIDS it hit him hard – partly because the 31-year-old doctor was so close in age to the young man who died.

But he told the website TheBody.com that he knew from the time he first heard reports about AIDS in 1981 that HIV care would be his destiny. That interview came 10 years ago, as Henry accepted an Outstanding Physician award.

As for the future, Henry tells HCMC he sees the management of HIV becoming a more mainstream part of health care and he believes efforts to find a cure will lead to more successes like the case of a Berlin patient who is now free of the virus.

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