AIDS Activist, Playwright Larry Kramer Dies at 84

May 28, 2020 -- U.S. AIDS activist and writer Larry Kramer died Wednesday in Manhattan at age 84.

The cause of death was pneumonia, according to his husband, David Webster, The New York Times reported.

Kramer struggled with illness for much of his adult life, including infection with the AIDS-causing HIV virus. He also had a liver disease and required a liver transplant.

Kramer helped found the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the first service organization for people with HIV, in 1981, and his aggressive demands for a strong response to the AIDS crisis helped change U.S. health policy in the 1980s and 90s, according to The Times.

He was also a prolific writer, and is probably best known for a largely autobiographical play chronicling the AIDS movement, "The Normal Heart," first produced in 1985.

Kramer had a cantankerous, rabble-rousing approach to activism. One target in 1988 was Dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Kramer called him a killer and "an incompetent idiot," for what Kramer saw as the agency's neglect of AIDS issues.

But that relationship grew less rancorous with time, and in years to come Fauci and Kramer became friends and colleagues in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

"Once you got past the rhetoric," Fauci told the Times, "you found that Larry Kramer made a lot of sense, and that he had a heart of gold."

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