Search for AIDS Cure Drives Scientist’s 20-Year Effort
One of the first scientists to observe and focus efforts on AIDS, Mathilde Krim has dedicated much of the last 20 years to treatment research and raising awareness, a Los Angeles Times profile reports. "In those early days, [gay men with AIDS] were literally dying in the streets. [They] lost their jobs, their apartments -- their families turned away from them. It turned my stomach, it really impacted me and I decided this was something not to be tolerated," she said. When the government and public seemed "surprisingly unconcerned" about the new disease, Krim established the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983 to serve as a "scientific venture capitalist" that would help fund innovative AIDS research, educate the public and lobby for legal protection of those infected. Two years later, her organization merged with the National AIDS Research Foundation and formed the American Foundation for AIDS Research, with Krim acting as chair. She then began a controversial public-awareness campaign in which she lectured on the dangers of unsafe sex, urged the closing of bathhouses, and advocated the distribution of disposable hypodermic needles to intravenous drug users. Krim also continued with medical research, studying interferon as an antiviral therapy and protesting clinical trials that administer placebos to AIDS patients who would die without treatment. Although Krim acknowledged that researchers are only "halfway down the road" to finding a cure, AmfAR has invested $175 million into AIDS-related research, prevention campaigns and education and public policy efforts, awarding grants to more than 1,850 research teams throughout the world. Krim was recently the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her AIDS-related work (Vaughn, Los Angeles Times, 12/31).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.