AIDS Activist David Pasquarelli Dead at Age 36
David Pasquarelli, an AIDS activist who believed that HIV was not the cause of AIDS and opposed increases in federal AIDS funding, died at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek, Calif., on March 8 from complications of HIV infection, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. He was 36. Pasquarelli was a member of ACT UP/San Francisco, which uses confrontational forms of protest and is unaffiliated with other ACT UP groups (Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/18). In August 2003, a San Francisco judge sentenced Pasquarelli to three years' probation and mandatory mental health counseling for making harassing phone calls to San Francisco health officials and newspaper reporters (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/4/03). Pasquarelli earned his bachelor's degree at Pennsylvania State University, where he became involved in gay rights activism. He then worked as a resident couselor at St. Leo University in Florida, where he co-founded ACT UP/Tampa Bay. In 1993, he moved to San Francisco, and in 1995 he was diagnosed with HIV. Pasquarelli then "committed his life to solving the mystery behind a compromised immune system," according to Steve Huggins, his partner of seven years, who has established a memorial Web site for Pasquarelli -- davidpasquarelli.com (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/18). On the Web site, Huggins writes that although Pasquarelli was publicly "characterized by anger and outrage ... [t]here was a private side to David that was loving, compassionate and gentle. The root of David's public outrage was the deep love and care that he had for his gay brothers and sisters and the injustices they suffer. ... Many people admired David for his outspokenness and courage, others vilified him for it, but in the end he was profoundly successful at bringing attention to issues he cared about" (David Pasquarelli Memorial Web site, 3/18). A celebration of Pasquarelli's life is scheduled for Saturday at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.