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Pioneering AIDS physician dies
Scott Hitt also remembered for LGBT activism

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff

Scott Hitt’s contribution to people with HIV ‘inestimable.’
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Scott Hitt, 49, founder of the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) and HIV/AIDS advisor to the Clinton Administration, died Nov. 8 after a long battle with cancer.

Hitt was a pioneering HIV/AIDS physician and outspoken advocate for those affected by the disease. He served as the chair of President Bill Clinton’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and was the first openly gay person to head a presidential advisory body.

“We are without words to fully express our sadness and profound loss at Dr. Hitt’s premature passing,” said AAHIVM Board Chair Jeffrey Schouten. “Throughout his career he worked tirelessly to improve the quality of and access to care for all HIV/AIDS patients in this country.”
Schouten added, “Scott was a visionary with the energy and political savvy to realize his visions. Today we have lost not only a dedicated health care leader and activist; we have lost a dear colleague and friend.”

In 2004, actor and activist Judith Light (“Who’s The Boss?”) said, “Scott Hitt’s contribution to fighting AIDS and serving people with AIDS is inestimable. He is one of the pivotal people in the struggle.”

“Scott Hitt was a pioneer in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Working with President Clinton, Scott was responsible for creating policy that saved thousands of lives,” said David Mixner, author, political strategist and civil rights activist. “He fought discrimination and was a powerful force within the Democratic Party. We shall miss his voice.”

Hitt was the co-founder of Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality (ANGLE) and served on the boards of numerous AIDS and LGBT organizations, including AIDS Project Los Angeles, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Equality California.

The respected doctor was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999. In 2004, he resigned from many professional positions due to his health.

In 2006, AAHIVM awarded the first R. Scott Hitt Scholarship for clinicians and trainees who are interested in becoming HIV expert care providers.

“Our staff, our members and the million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. will reap the rewards of Dr. Hitt’s contributions for years to come,” said AAHIVM Executive Director James Friedman.

Hitt was born in Tucson, Ariz. He is survived by his longtime companion, Alex Koleszar, and his two sisters Alana Hoffmann and Heather Martin.

A private service and burial was held in Phoenix, Ariz., with a public memorial service following at All Saints’ Parish in Beverly Hills, Calif.

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