He is believed to have drowned on Tuesday afternoon while on holiday with his family in Miami.
Wainberg was the founder and director of McGill University's AIDS Centre alongside a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology.
A virologist, he became interested in AIDS in the 1980s during the early years of the pandemic.
He was the first to identify the anti-viral drug Lamivudine that reduces the amount of HIV in the body by slowing down the damage the disease does to the body's immune system.
Miguel De La Rosa, acting chief of the Bal Harbour Police Department in suburban Miami, said they responded to a 911 call on Tuesday after Dr. Wainberg was pulled unconscious from the water. Dr Wainberg was a passionate advocate for ensuring that HIV treatment reached the people most in need and spoke out against AIDS denialism when it threatened the response to HIV. Additionally, he contributed to the field of HIV drug resistance, including the identification of numerous mutations in the HIV genome that drive drug resistance.
The TAC said Wainberg played an important part in our struggle for HIV treatment in South Africa.
In 2001, he was named to the Order of Canada, and made an officer of the national Order of Quebec, four years later.
The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame lauded Wainberg before his 2015 induction as having "revolutionized our understanding of HIV/AIDS at medical, epidemiological and political levels". Wainberg was transported to a local hospital where he later died.
Because it is Passover, the family was unavailable for comment.
Linda-Gail Bekker, head of the International AIDS Society (IAS), which Wainberg lead from 1998, said the HIV/AIDS research community had "lost one of our fiercest champions".
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