Doctor for Early HIV/AIDS Patients Among Dead in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

Doctor for Early HIV/AIDS Patients Among Dead in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

On Saturday, anti-Semitic gunman Robert Bowers opened fire on attendees at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As names of those killed in the shooting were released throughout the weekend, people began to pay tribute to the 11 victims, including Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, a Pittsburgh-based doctor who helped treat patients living with HIV.

According to Michael Kerr, a New York City-based activist and member of ACT UP, Rabinowitz, 66, treated HIV-positive people prior to the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy, when few doctors were willing to even touch those living with HIV. Kerr wrote on his Facebook about Rabinowitz and what it was like to be in his care.

“Before there was effective treatment for fighting HIV itself, he was known in the community for keeping us alive the longest,” Kerr wrote. “He often held our hands (without rubber gloves) and always always hugged us as we left his office.”

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🔻 . “My doctor Jerry Rabinowitz was among those killed in the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting. He took care of me up until I left Pittsburgh for NYC in 2004. . In the old days for HIV patients in Pittsburgh, he was to one to go to. Basically before there was effective treatment for fighting HIV itself, he was known in the community for keeping us alive the longest. He often held our hands (without rubber gloves) and always always hugged us as we left his office. . We made a deal about my T cells, in that I didn’t want to know the numbers visit to visit, because I knew I would fret with every little fluctuation and I also knew that AZT was not working for my friends. The deal was that he would just let me know at some point when the T cell numbers meant I needed to start on medications. The numbers were his job and my job was to finish my masters thesis and get a job with insurance and try to not go crazy. . I got lucky beyond words — because when he gently told me around November 1995 that it was time to begin taking medications —there was an ACTG trial for two HIV medications that saved my life. One of which I still take today. . Thank you ACT UP for getting these drugs into a safe but effect expedited research protocol. You saved my life. . And THANK YOU Dr. Rabinowitiz for having always been there during the most terrifying and frightening time of my life. You will be remembered by me always. You are one of my heroes just like the early ACT UP warriors —- some of which I now call friends.” — by Michael Kerr @michaeljkerr63. . #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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Kerr remembered Rabinowitz telling him that he needed to start on medications in November 1995, before HAART, when AZT was one of the few treatment options available to HIV-positive people.

“Thank you Dr. Rabinowitiz for having always been there during the most terrifying and frightening time of my life. You will be remembered by me always. You are one of my heroes just like the early ACT UP warriors — some of which I now call friends,” Kerr wrote.  

According to NBC, Rabinowitz is survived by his wife, Miri, his mother, Sally and his brother, Bill.

Image via Getty


Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew is a staff writer at INTO. His work has appeared in Mic, Slate and Complex. He loves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Flannery O'Connor and female rappers and is working on a memoir.

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