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Remembering Mathilde Krim

The International AIDS Society (IAS) mourns the passing of Mathilde Krim, founding chair of amfAR, and a giant in the history of the HIV response. She was 91.

Dr Krim, a cancer researcher trained at the University of Geneva, was living in New York City when the epidemic was first recognized in the early 1980s. At a time when fear and hysteria dominated the world’s perception of HIV, Dr Krim stepped forward to become the most visible advocate in the United States for a response to HIV that was grounded in scientific evidence and respect for human rights.

In 1983, Dr Krim created the AIDS Medical Foundation, a vehicle for raising private funding for AIDS research, which evolved to become amfAR in 1985. Since its founding, amfAR has mobilized more than half a billion US dollars for HIV research.

Leveraging her scientific credentials, Dr Krim aggressively confronted denial, ignorance and stigma. Under her stewardship, amfAR was among the earliest philanthropic supporters of needle-exchange programmes. She actively opposed homophobia, advocated for anti-discrimination legislation and opposed proposals for mandatory HIV testing.

Dr Krim recruited actress Elizabeth Taylor and other global celebrities to the AIDS cause, and used her extensive political connections to persuade elected leaders in Washington to increase funding for HIV research, prevention, care and support programmes. For her leadership on AIDS, US President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000.

At the IAS, we salute the leadership and commitment of this extraordinary scientist-activist.

For more, read the amfAR memoriam of Dr Mathilde Krim here.

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Mandy Sugrue
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