St. Louis nonprofit responds to death of public health advocate Larry Kramer

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – Larry Kramer, one of the very first activists to speak out in the fight against AIDS, has died at 84-years-old.

The CEO of Doorways Housing, a nonprofit organization serving those with HIV and AIDS. She told FOX 2 his voice paved the way for facilities like doorways to offer resources.

Larry Kramer shed light on AIDS in the 80s when it was most stigmatized. He did it through writing essays, screenplays and novels, and being outspoken on what he believed in.

“1, 112, and Counting,” “The Normal Heart,” and “Women in Love,” are some of Larry Kramer’s recognized bodies of work that opened eyes to the aids epidemic that plagued the 80s.

“He was one of the first activists and a very vocal activist…very controversial in how he approached activism,” said Opal Jones.

If not through his art, it was Kramer’s outspoken, fearless, and frank commentary that rallied up a response to the new virus that was taking lives.

“Without that work and without him being so on front and in your face, I don’t know that we will be where we are today,” Jones said.

Kramer even spewed out critical words to today’s Dr. Fauci, National Director of Infectious Disease. Back then, he called for more of a response to the virus. Today, as Dr. Fauci briefs the country on the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones says the response is much different.

“I’m glad to see that they have been resources for COVID-19,” Jones said. “There’s been a much quicker response to the pandemic and there was an HIV pandemic.”

The co-founder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis and AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, his courage led to a change in testing medicine.

“It’s critical to have activists that are willing to put everything on the line like he was,” Jones said.

As Doorways Housing helps those living with HIV/AIDS, Jones says a few things are left with Kramer’s legacy.

“One person can make a difference,” Jones said. “You can absolutely stand up for the things you believe, speak loudly, be heard, and make an impact on an issue. He certainly did that with HIV.”

Sources say Kramer died of pneumonia.

For more information on resources for living with HIV/AIDS, click here.

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