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New York, 14 December 2009 – Treatment Action Group (TAG), the New York-based AIDS research and policy think tank, issued this statement today upon the death of Dennis deLeon, long-time Executive Director of the Latino AIDS Commission and former New York City Commissioner of Human Rights.

“We are saddened by the news of the untimely death from HIV related complications of Dennis deLeon, long-time AIDS and human rights activist. Dennis enriched our world by his passionate commitment to the health, lives, and dignity of people living with HIV/AIDS, including but not restricted to those in the Latino/Latina community.

“We recall and honor Dennis’ courageous decision to disclose his HIV status in the ‘bad old days’ before highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), when he was among the very first New York City officials to so disclose, despite the associated stigma which was even more devastating in those years before effective therapy.”

“Treatment Action Group had the privilege of working with Dennis at the Latino AIDS Commission in the mid-1990s when there was an outbreak of the sometimes-fatal parasitic disease Cryptosporidiosis, caused by impurities in the City water supply. People with HIV/AIDS are particularly susceptible to a devastating form of cryptosporidiosis which can be fatal, especially when immunosuppressed.

“Despite his frequent struggles with his own HIV infection, Dennis was a tireless leader and fighter for people with HIV/AIDS, for social justice, and for universal access to voluntary HIV testing, treatment, and comprehensive prevention and care services.
“Dennis’ premature loss reminds us that the end of the AIDS crisis is not yet in sight, and we commit to honoring his legacy by continuing to fight the epidemic every day.

“TAG sends our condolences on this loss to Dennis’ friends, family, and colleagues.”

“Thank you Dennis! Your work lives on!”

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