Dr. Mark Wainberg dies after struggling in waters off Bal Harbour, Fla.

Dr. Mark Wainberg dies after struggling in waters off Bal Harbour, Fla.

Famed microbiologist Dr. Mark Wainberg, who played a crucial role in the fight against HIV and AIDS, passed away earlier this week. He was 71.

Dr. Wainberg’s son Zev told reporters that his father died on Tuesday after struggling in the rough waters off Bal Harbour, Florida. He was swimming when rough surfs drowned him. His son managed to pull him to shore.

CPR was performed before the arrival of paramedics, and he was transported to Aventura Hospital in Aventura, where doctors declared him dead.

The AIDS pandemic was taking thousands of lives in the 1980s when Dr. Wainberg started to study the virus that causes AIDS -- HIV. Working with Dr. Robert Gallo, he found how certain cells and antibodies grow the virus.

In 1989, he found that a new antiviral drug dubbed 3TC or Lamivudine was effective against HIV. The drug soon became a key part of the AIDS cocktail of drugs that is still used to treat AIDS patients.

In an interview, he said, “It’s no longer enough to simply have said, ‘OK, we’ve done a great job and we’ve transformed HIV from a lethal sentence that used to kill everybody into a chronic, manageable disease,’? We want to get to zero.”

In addition to his son Zev, Dr. Wainberg is survived by his wife Susan Hubschman; another son, Jonathan; and three grandchildren.

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