Spencer Cox, a well-known AIDS activist who worked with scientists to create the first drugs that combat this deadly diseased, passed away yesterday in Manhattan. He was 41.
Cox had been a prominent voice for over 20 years, taking part in demonstrations as a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power.
His aim was to pressure both the government and the private sector to dedicate an abundance of resources to this cause.
In 1992, Cox helped found the Treatment Action Group (TAG) , which focused on accelerating treatment research. He often met with the Federal Drug Administration and other agencies to educate them about AIDS.
“You can’t understand how incredibly scary it was for him to sit down at the table of the F.D.A. Anti-Viral Advisory Committee as the ‘P.W.A. representative’ and take on the scientific establishment,” David Barr, an original TAG member, wrote on Facebook, adding:
“It took incredible courage and a whole lot of arrogance. You need to understand how lonely it was to sit at those tables, how much you felt like a complete fraud, yet also right and right to be there.”
Toward the end of his life, Cox struggled with an addiction to methamphetamines, Mark Harrington, the executive director of TAG, tells The New York Times.
Harrington says Cox stopped taking his medication a few months ago: "He saved the lives of millions, but he couldn’t save his own."
Cox's death was confirmed by his brother Nick and our thoughts go out to his loved ones.