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Dr. Fauci remembers playwright and AIDS activist Larry Kramer for his 'heart of gold'


Larry Kramer, the AIDS activist and playwright known for The Normal Heart, has died at 84.

Kramer died Wednesday morning in Manhattan from pneumonia, his husband, David Webster, told The New York Times.

Kramer in 1981 co-founded the Gay Men's Health Crisis organization for HIV-positive people and was a founder of Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) as well. He was, the Times writes, "among the first activists to foresee that what had at first caused alarm as a rare form of cancer among gay men would spread worldwide, like any other sexually transmitted disease, and kill millions of people without regard to sexual orientation," and he used "relentless, often antagonizing tactics to goad public officials, scientists and fellow gay rights proponents to stanch the AIDS epidemic," The Washington Post notes.

Kramer's autobiographical play The Normal Heart debuted in 1985, and his other notable work includes the play The Destiny of Me, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay for Women in Love.

Among those who have paid tribute to Kramer is Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who the Times notes Kramer formed a "grudging friendship" with after Kramer in the 1980s called him an "incompetent idiot." The Times' obituary quotes Fauci as saying that "once you got past the rhetoric, you found that Larry Kramer made a lot of sense, and that he had a heart of gold."

Fauci had previously said in a 2002 interview with The New Yorker, "In American medicine, there are two eras. Before Larry and after Larry. There is no question in my mind that Larry helped change medicine in this country. And he helped change it for the better."