Mathilde Krim, the pioneering AIDS activist and virologist at the forefront of the fight against the deadly virus in the 1980s and 90s, has passed away at age 91, The New York Timesreports.
Krim was the founding chairwoman of of amFAR, the Foundation for AIDS Reseach. A spokeswoman for the organization confirmed Krim's death to the Times.
At a time when AIDS had been seen as a sickening and shameful disease isolating an already disenfranchised group of people, Krim never faltered as a staunch warrior in the fight to eradicate both the virus itself and the the injustices being commmitted upon the people it affected.
"They felt that 'this was a disease that resulted from a sleazy lifestyle, drugs or kinky sex -- that certain people had learned their lesson and it served them right,'" she said to The New York Times Magazine back in 1988. "That was the attitude, even on the part of respectable foundations that are supposed to be concerned about human welfare."
Krim was an outspoken advocate for safe sex practices and heavily supported needle exchange programs. She advocated for legislation to protect gay people against discrimination and opposed mandatory HIV tests that could be used as ways of outing and attacking homosexual. Her background in science--she had a doctorate in biology and had worked for the White House--made her a ferocious and undeniably credible hero for those affected by AIDS. She's a true gay icon. May she rest in peace.