The discoveries happening at the Hawaii Center for AIDS lab could be critical in finding a cure for the disease.
Dr. Lishomwa Ndhlovu, lead investigator, is studying several state-of-the-art methods, including one that shocks the virus out of its hiding places in the body.
"We've identified certain compounds and drugs that do this really efficiently. Then we hope that with the immune system or other modalities we can actually kill the virus that's been reactivated," Ndhlovu said.
Preliminary data from his research was enough to convince the National Institute of Health that this approach could work.
But more testing still needs to be done.
"It's a long road. These are the early stages," Ndhlovu said.
But a cure isn't the only focus. Investigators are also working to prevent the spread of HIV.
Health officials confirm the virus is on every island, and between 80 and 100 new cases have been diagnosed every year for the past five years.
"The main risk factor is males who have sex with males," said Dr. Cecilia Shikuma, director of the Hawaii Center for AIDS.
Shikuma says most patients in Hawaii are on anti-retro viral therapy. Education combined with the medicine play a big part in preventing the spread of the virus.
"So even if they are out in the community having unprotected sex they will not be able to spread HIV," Shikuma said.
Shikuma says Hawaii could be on track to become the first state in the country to eliminate new cases of HIV.