Former Chair of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS Hitt Dies
R. Scott Hitt -- a former HIV/AIDS physician and former chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS during the Clinton administration -- died Thursday of colon cancer at his home in West Hollywood, Calif., according to Hitt's friend and West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Hitt in December 1996 pushed for measures to decrease the spread of HIV among injection drug users when former President Clinton released a set of HIV/AIDS-related goals that called for a cure, a vaccine and a guarantee of care for HIV/AIDS patients. Hitt at the time said, "We're going to hold the [Clinton] administration's feet to the fire to make sure the steps they take accomplish the goals they set." He also criticized the Clinton administration for its reluctance to fund needle-exchange programs, the AP/Chronicle reports.
As the number of AIDS-related deaths declined after the release of antiretroviral drugs, Hitt began focusing his efforts on gay and lesbian issues and established a foundation aimed at promoting HIV/AIDS advocacy in the gay and lesbian community. Duran said Hitt's "legacy was drawing AIDS to the attention of the president," adding that he "was not afraid of challenging the president about what would make good public policy" (Nguyen, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/8).
In 2000, Hitt founded the American Academy of HIV Medicine. "We are without words to fully express our sadness and profound loss at Dr. Hitt's premature passing," AAHIVM Board Chair Jeffrey Schouten, said, adding, "Throughout his career he worked tirelessly to improve the quality of and access to care for all HIV/AIDS patients in this country" (AAHIVM release, 11/8).