Mathilde Krim, a scientist who spearheaded research into the AIDS epidemic and helped draw national attention to its cause, has passed away, according to The Washington Post. She was 91.
Dr. Krim first made the discovery of the HIV virus while researching a possible treatment of leukemia with interferon, an antiviral agent and protein, in 1980. A friend shared with her that he was seeing unusual symptoms in gay men in New York; their lymph nodes were enlarged along with their spleens, but the men appeared to be free of disease.
Dr. Krim looked into the matter, which became an American epidemic and a global health crisis. She discovered that the disease was spread by a virus, HIV, and often affected gay patients or drug addicts, although Dr. Krim worked to explain that AIDS was not confined to certain sexual orientations of social status.
Dr. Krim started her research with a $100,000 donation from her husband, Arthur Krim. With the money, she founded the AIDS Medical Foundation in New York in 1983.
She was chairman of the organization’s board from 1990 to 2004. During that time, AIDS became a kind of disease that was treated alongside many others.
“Mathilde did carry AIDS into the social mainstream,” wrote Allan Rosenfield, dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “She saw that AIDS would demand the intellectual resources of the fields of medicine, basic science and public health.”
In 2000 President Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor.
In her earlier days, she helped smuggle weapons to a Zionist militant group after her conversion to Judaism. Her husband helped found the movie studio Orion Pictures. He died in 1994.
“I came to the conclusion that it’s better if I stay on the outside and help people inside the labs,” she told the New York Times in 1988. “I’m not such a genius that somebody else cannot do what I was doing. And these would be people who cannot do what I can.”
Please pray for her family during this terrible time of loss. In recent news, an NFL star has been accused of brutality toward his wife.