Prominent AIDS Activist Born With HIV Dies at 39

In memos to his loved ones, Sean Strub warned that his AIDS activism would one day kill him. Strub, who helped shepherd in an era of frank discussion about HIV and AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, died on Monday at his home in Philadelphia.

He was 39 and suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a lung illness that can be triggered by a bacterial infection common in people with HIV.

Strub was born in Philadelphia on Sept. 1, 1965. He attended Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and then the University of the Arts, where he studied theater.

He was an actor, writer, and performance artist in New York City when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, just as the AIDS crisis was exploding.

He soon became a prominent activist and advocate for people with AIDS, founding the Coalition of People With AIDS and the Foundation for AIDS and HIV Medicine.

He also served as executive director of the Philadelphia AIDS Task Force and was a co-founder of the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco. Strub was a friend and mentor to many in the AIDS advocacy community, including Chad Griffin, the incoming president of AIDS United.

Griffin, who is also the founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, called Strub "a lion in the AIDS advocacy world and a tireless champion for the rights and needs of HIV-positive people everywhere".

"Sean's courageous leadership and indefatigable spirit inspired generations of activists," Griffin said in a statement on Monday.

"His bold fights for equity and dignity will continue to inspire our work to end the HIV epidemic". Strub was also a prolific writer who authored several books, including a memoir, "Body Count: How One Man Beat the Odds Against AIDS," and a novel, "Lovesounds".

He wrote frequently about the stigma of HIV and AIDS and the need for better education and advocacy on behalf of those living with the virus.

In memos he wrote intended for his family and friends in the event of his death, Strub urged them to "stay angry and stay vigilant".

He also advised them to take care of each other and to "fight for our rights in ways that I cannot". Most importantly, he urged them to remember his love for them.

As Griffin noted, Strub's death is a devastating loss for the AIDS advocacy community and for those who have loved ones living with HIV.

But Strub's legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations of activists fighting for a world where HIV is no longer a death sentence.

His work, and that of other AIDS activists, has helped save countless lives and brought about significant changes in the understanding and treatment of HIV and AIDS.

As we move forward, it is crucial to remember the importance of advocacy and the work that remains to be done to end the HIV epidemic.

There is still no cure for HIV, and transmissions of the virus remain a tragic reality for far too many people worldwide.

But if Strub's life and work can teach us anything, it is that we must all strive to make the world a better, fairer, and more just place, not just for ourselves but for those who come after us.

In his memos, Strub asked those he left behind to take care of his beloved dog, Charlie, and to look after one another.

Let us honor his memory by doing the same for each other.

As Sean Strub's friend and fellow AIDS activist Tom Neilson said in a statement, "Rest in power, my dear friend. The fight continues".

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