By Robert Bazell, NBC News Chief science correspondent
It is with profound sadness that I note the death of someone who was a model for what health activism could accomplish, as well as a reliable source for many stories for me and other reporters.
Martin Delaney died this morning in San Francisco of liver cancer. His activism began in the late 1970s when he realized how few resources were available for someone suffering hepatitis B, as he was. When HIV/AIDS appeared, he took on the battle against that scourge and founded an organization called Project Inform.
He worked to provide the best information to those who suffered and to prod the government and drug companies to find better treatments. With great
bravery, he faced down the forces of ignorance who wanted to deny that HIV is the cause of AIDS. Early on in the epidemic, many top researchers acknowledged that Marty, who had no formal science training, knew far more about the details of the disease than they did.
Marty's knowledge and activism led him to seats on the panels of government that made key decisions about AIDS drugs. Last week, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious disease presented him with the director's special recognition award.
"Millions of people are now receiving life-saving antiretroviral medications from a treatment pipeline that Marty Delaney played a key role in opening
and expanding," said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "Without his tireless work and vision, many more people would have perished from HIV/AIDS."