Activist Larry Kramer passes at 84

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Author and activist Larry Kramer (Photo by David Shankbone through Wikimedia Commons)

NEW YORK — Playwright and HIV/AIDS activist Larry Kramer has died at the age of 84.

The New York Times reported that Kramer died at his Manhattan home of pneumonia.

Kramer was the author of “The Normal Heart” and was a co-founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, one of the first organizations created to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, and ACT UP, an activist group that fought to increase awareness and improved treatments.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the people Kramer criticized for not doing enough, told the Times, “Once you got past the rhetoric, you found that Larry Kramer made a lot of sense, and that he had a heart of gold.

Fauci credited Kramer for helping him see how the federal government was slowing HIV research and played an “essential” role in the development of elaborate drug regimens that could prolong the lives of those with HIV, and in prompting the Food and Drug Administration to streamline its assessment and approval of certain new drugs.

According to the newspaper, the two became friends after Fauci was able to get Kramer access to an experimental drug when Kramer developed liver disease and had a transplant. They became closer after Fauci was attacked for sticking to science in coronavirus briefings even as they contradicted what the Trump administration claimed.

Reaction across the internet and social media was swift, with many remembering that his worked had kept many people alive through the worst of the early HIV pandemic.

“Larry Kramer was a community leader who made a real difference in the fight against HIV / AIDS,” said Wally Paynter, co-president of the Southern Illinois AIDS Coalition in Carbondale. “He created a response to this pandemic when our national leadership refused to act. He saved more lives than can be calculated, even though it meant upsetting government and community leaders. He showed that one person can truly make a difference to a global crisis. For those who don’t know his history, please read about him or watch the movie ‘The Normal Heart.’ And I encourage those motivated to volunteer or show support for their local AIDS service organization to help continue making a difference.”

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