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Leading HIV/AIDS Activist, Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Dies

Courtesy of the Critical Path Project

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—"We regret to inform you that Kiyoshi Kuromiya, one of the world's leading AIDS activists, died on the night of May 10, 2000, due to complications from AIDS,” said a communiqué from Critical Path .

To the last, Kiyoshi remained an activist, insisting on and receiving the most aggressive treatment for cancer and the HIV that complicated its treatment. He participated fully in every treatment decision, making sure that he, his friends and fellow activists were involved with his treatment every step of the way. He never gave up.

Kiyoshi devoted his life to the struggle for social justice.

He was a committed civil rights and anti-war activist. He was also one of the founders of Gay Liberation Front - Philadelphia and served as an openly gay delegate to the Black Panther Convention that endorsed the gay liberation struggle.

As a pioneering AIDS activist, Kiyoshi was involved in all aspects of the movement, including radical direct action with ACT UP Philadelphia and the ACT UP network, PWA empowerment and coalition-building through We The People Living with HIV/AIDS, national and international research advocacy, and loving and compassionate mentorship and care for hundreds of people living with HIV. Kiyoshi was the editor of the ACT UP Standard of Care, the first standard of care for people living with HIV produced by PWAs.

Kiyoshi is perhaps best known as the founder of the Critical Path Project, which brought the strategies and theories of his associate/mentor Buckminster Fuller to the struggle against AIDS.

The Critical Path newsletter, one of the earliest and most comprehensive sources of HIV treatment information, was routinely mailed to thousands of people living with HIV all over the world. He also sent newsletters to hundreds of incarcerated individuals to insure their access to up-to-date treatment information.

Critical Path provides free access to the Internet to thousands of people living with HIV in Philadelphia and this region, hosted over a hundred AIDS related web pages and discussion lists, and showed a whole generation of activists and people living with HIV that the Internet can be a tool for information, empowerment and organizing. He was a leader in the struggle to maintain freedom of speech on the Internet, participating in the successful lawsuit against the Communications Decency Act.

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Kiyoshi understood science and was involved locally, nationally and internationally in AIDS research. As both a treatment activist and clinical trials participant, he fought for community based research, and for research that involves the community in its design. He fought for research that mattered to the diversity of groups affected by AIDS, including people of color, drug users, and women.

He fought for appropriate research on alternative and complementary therapies as well, and was the lead plaintiff in the Federal class action lawsuit on medicinal marijuana.

In the first issue of Critical Path, published in 1989, he wrote, "it is our conviction that . . . a heroic endeavor is now needed both to provide for the continuing health maintenance of Persons With AIDS the world over, and, by the year 2001 to find a cure for the ravages of AIDS for all time."

“That task he set us still remains unfinished,” say Kiyoshi Kuromiya's comrades, “We will miss his intelligence and the clear and even analysis he brought to any meeting or political activity. We will miss his commitment, and dedication to the idea that all people living with HIV should participate in the decisions that will affect their lives. And we will miss his wit, his smile, his sense of fun.

“If you want to honor Kiyoshi, we urge you to make a donation to the activist organization of your choice. And sometime soon, today, or tomorrow, or next week, take the opportunity to speak truth to power, join a picket line you might have passed by, or help plan a demonstration against global injustice that you thought you were too busy to be involved with. He would have liked that.”

Memorial service arrangements are underway at this time and will be held the week of May 21 to allow out of town travel.

Philadelphia FIGHT Vows To Continue Critical Path's Work

Philadelphia FIGHT, the fiscal sponsor of the Critical Path AIDS Project today announced plans to continue the work of Critical Path. Julie Davids, founder of Project TEACH (Treatment Education Activists Combating HIV) has been named Interim Director of the Critical Path AIDS Project. Plans are underway for immediate publication of the next issue of the print version of Critical Path. Computer and Internet services are expected to continue without interruption with present staff in place.

"The loss of Kiyoshi Kuromiya is a tragedy for people living with AIDS and for the AIDS community in Philadelphia and worldwide," said Jane Shull, Executive Director of Philadelphia FIGHT. "But we will not allow his death to end our efforts to carry out his mission of bringing timely, accurate, information to people living with HIV, through the Internet, through print media, and through the telephone hotline.

"We share Kiyoshi's long held belief that information is power and we will continue, in his memory, to empower people living with AIDS to take control of their treatment. Critical Path will continue."

Julie Davids, a respected AIDS treatment activist, was a colleague of Kiyoshi's, in ACT UP Philadelphia as well as through Philadelphia FIGHT. She has served on the Community Constituency Group of the AIDS Clinical Trails Group and on many other advisory committees related to clinical research.

As founder of TEACH, Davids developed the curriculum of one of the most successful peer education training programs in North America; TEACH has graduated over 350 treatment peer educators from an intensive 48 hour 8 week program and offers peer education to people living with HIV at outreach sites all over Philadelphia. TEACH's work has been recognized nationally and internationally through poster and oral presentations at many recent scientific meetings.

Before his death, Kiyoshi met with FIGHT staff members to discuss his wishes for the continuation of Critical Path. The members said: “We promised him that the organization will continue. We will keep that promise.”

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