In the midst of so many recent losses, we note with regret the passing of Dr. Ron Simmons, a scholar, community activist, and longtime advocate, role model, and mentor to Black gay men living with/at risk for HIV. Dr. Simmons passed away on March 29, 2020, from complications related to prostate cancer.
Between 1992–2016, Dr. Simmons served as President/CEO for Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Inc., an organization that provides HIV prevention and support services to the African American community in the Washington, DC, area. Dr. Simmons was a strong advocate for Black men living with HIV, and he supported many people who have devoted their careers to responding to the HIV epidemic.
Dr. Timothy Harrison, HHS’s Acting Health Administrator for Region 4, remembered Simmons as a source of encouragement and hope: “So often, Ron would pull me aside and remind me of what’s at stake in our work. He was a leader, educator, and tireless champion for the health and lives of black gay men. Job well done, Ron, rest in power and peace.”
“Ron’s observational skills, patience, and thoughtfulness laid the groundwork for effective responses to the HIV throughout Washington, DC, and the nation,” added Miguel Gomez, Director of HIV.gov.
Dr. Simmons’ death came hard on the heels of the passing of activist Larry Kramer, who died on May 27th. Kramer was one of the founders of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the first AIDS service organization in the nation. He also founded the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP.
Dr. Simmons and Mr. Kramer leave legacies of lives saved and health preserved. We offer our gratitude for their work and our condolences to their families and friends.