by Jeffrey Moualim
Corey Dubin heard my anguish. He would tell me years later that he still remembered that day. I was having a body cast removed after a hip bleed at age 8. My cries of pain echoed down the hospital corridor. Pain and Hemophilia are forever intertwined. That would not be the first-time Corey would see or hear the suffering caused by the insidious bleeding disorder. But unlike many of us Corey also heard something more powerful. He heard his calling.
Corey heard a cry from a community that all too often suffered from this disease. So, Corey stared down his own pain from bleeding episodes and refused to blink first. To give in was not an option. With the encouragement of his father, Al Dubin, Corey grew to be a leader in the in the Southern California Hemophilia community. He would live his life to the fullest and do all the things any young man would do. He showed he was not a Hemophiliac or even worse a “hemo-” (a word he hated) but a person who also happened to have Hemophilia. As it turned out, the leadership skills he acquired while growing up to be a man would be tested later by a far more heinous foe: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome — AIDS.
Corey was an accomplished journalist reporting on Latin and US American foreign policy. Corey worked in Central America and later became the director of public affairs for KPFK radio in Los Angeles. This experience honed his sense of social justice for everyone, not just the privileged few. It was one more step to prepare him for the role of his lifetime. It was in a newsroom one day that his fate came over the teletype. The story had broken that people in the U.S. with Hemophilia who had taken Factor VIII and Factor IX were likely to have contracted HIV/AIDS. In the 1980’s that was a death sentence. Corey was always someone who wanted to personify strength. That day, however, he broke down and cried when he read this report. He would subsequently find out that, indeed, he had contracted HIV and like everyone Corey was jolted in a seismic way. But he would not succumb to self-pity. There was no time for that.
As the 1990’s began Corey had already begun the “work” to fight the stigma of AIDS. He used the powerful tools of education and leadership. Corey was chair of the Santa Barbara county HIV/AIDS Ryan White Title II Consortia. He was also appointed to the California Community Working Group (CPWG) where he drafted the CA. HIV/AIDS Prevention plan.
Still, it was in the later part of 1992 when Corey joined the board of the Committee of Ten Thousand (COTT) where he made his biggest impact. COTT began in New England in 1989. The original board of co-founders Tom Fahey, Jonathan Wadleigh and Greg Haas had started an advocacy organization for those who had Hemophilia and were now infected by HIV/AIDS. Corey joined the Committee of Ten Thousand (so named for the ten thousand people with Hemophilia who were ravaged by AIDS). This organization would become COTT east and COTT west. In the years to follow Corey Dubin established himself as a true leader within the organization and with the original founders. These dedicated people were infected with HIV/AIDS (and in some cases Hepatitis C) and passing away so Corey became president of COTT in 1999. From his arrival at COTT in 1992 Corey distinguished himself by being the first grassroots end user of our nation’s blood supply to be appointed to the FDA’s Blood Products Advisory Committee (BPAC). He served a second term starting in 2012. Corey was also instrumental in the passage of the Rickey Ray Relief Fund Act of 1999 and worked closely with organizations like the Institute of Science, National Academy of Sciences etc.
Corey Dubin made it simple. He made it clear that anyone receiving blood or blood products was a canary in the coal mine. Therefore, the blood supply of this country must be protected with the highest integrity of regulatory standards from our government institutions. It was why COTT from its inception would not accept donations from pharmaceutical companies. Corey felt that COTT must always be able to maintain its role as an objective advocate for the Hemophilia community. One important task was to hold government institutions and pharmaceutical companies who manufactured factor accountable. Another important facet was to educate people with Hemophilia and their families to have “Informed Consent” in their medical care.
There are more honors and achievements that can be listed for Corey Dubin both in his public and personal life, a personal life that he sacrificed many times for the Hemophilia community. Yet what many of us who knew Corey will always remember are the intangibles: his gift for understanding the science of the holocaust of AIDS, his commitment to be inclusive in his approach to seek justice, including early on when he reached out (when many did not) to Gay men and the Gay community and his ability to listen to someone who was in pain or suffering.
Even that day when I was 8 years old and didn’t know he was there, he heard me. In the years to come I believe Corey will always be listening.
Corey leaves a loving and supportive wife, Phoebe (Faviana) Hirsch Dubin, three children and six grandchildren. In 2016 The National AIDS Memorial Grove in conjunction with several Hemophilia organizations agreed to create a Memorial for people with Hemophilia who died from HIV/AIDS and/or Hepatitis C. Having a memorial for those who died from AIDS with hemophilia and for their families and friends was something very important to Corey. With his passing the success of the memorial project holds even greater meaning today.