Remembering Dr. Mathilde Krim

Dr. Krim died on January 15, 2018. She played a pivotal role in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. A research scientist, she became a strong advocate for people with AIDS. She leveraged her professional and social networks to bring the epidemic to the attention of leaders in health care and government globally. 

She was a founder of amFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, with Dr. Michael Gottleib and Elizabeth Taylor. Dr. Gottleib was a former medical student and resident of mine at UR who described the first cases of AIDS in 1981. Elizabeth Taylor needs no introduction.

I had met Dr. Krim a number of times over the years through our NYS Health Department connections, so she knew of our program in Rochester. 

She moderated a session at which I spoke on "The Future of AIDS Care" at the International AIDS Conference in Florence, Italy in 1991. The discussion centered around early HIV care vs. starting treatment later. Naturally, I was pushing HIV treatment as soon as possible, not exactly a popular cause at the time. An audience member argued against my position on starting treatment as early as possible, because he felt early treatment wasn’t possible in the UK. 

Her response to the UK physician was, “Of course, you can start treatment earlier. If they can do it in Rochester USA, you can do it in the UK!!”

As usual, she nailed it. She also contributed to our future mantra locally - "If you can't End the HIV Epidemic in Rochester, NY, you can't do it anywhere."

 Photo credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Photo credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters