HIV/AIDS Advocate Delaney Dies
Martin Delaney, an advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS and co-founder of the treatment and education organization Project Inform, died on Friday at age 63 of liver cancer, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Delaney co-founded Project Inform in 1985 after he "became appalled" with the lack of HIV/AIDS drug availability, and within 10 years the nonprofit grew to have an annual budget of $1 million and 200 volunteers who staffed the National HIV Treatment Hotline, the Chronicle reports (Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/25).
In a 2004 interview with PBS' "Frontline," Delaney said that at the time Project Inform was founded, it "struck us as very clear and very simple that people with a life-threatening illness should have a different rule book than people in general when it come to accessing new drugs" (Wohlsen, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 1/23). According to the Los Angeles Times, Delaney began holding town hall meetings across the U.S. to share information about the effectiveness of various HIV treatments. He also helped obtain drugs from Mexico and China that FDA had not approved for people living with HIV/AIDS. Frustrated with the slow process of FDA clinical trials, he also began what he called "medically supervised guerrilla trials" of promising drugs that did not have FDA approval. In 1990, the U.S. Public Health Service adopted a policy that allows people living with HIV/AIDS to receive promising drugs while they are being tested for safety and efficacy, which has "benefitted thousands of people facing other grave diseases," the Times reports (Woo, Los Angeles Times, 1/27).
In addition to his work with Project Inform, Delaney served as an official HIV/AIDS research adviser to NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and led the Fair Pricing Coalition, which negotiates with pharmaceutical companies to keep the costs of HIV drugs low, the AP/Mercury News reports (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 1/23). Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, said that Delaney received a letter informing him that he was the recipient of the Director's Special Recognition Award -- the organization's highest honor -- a few days before he died. Delaney was a "public health hero" who was "highly influential" in mainstreaming access to HIV/AIDS treatment, Fauci said, adding that "[w]ithout his tireless work and vision, many more people would have perished from HIV/AIDS" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/25).