American AIDS activist

Reggie Williams (April 29, 1951 – February 7, 1999) was an American AIDS activist who died of AIDS in Amsterdam where he had lived for the last 5 years of his life. He was 47 years old.

He was a leader in the development of the National Association of Black and White Men Together and the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention.

Born in Cincinnati, he became an X-ray technician and in the 1970’s moved to Los Angeles. He worked at @cedarssinai Hospital, where he noticed high number of men falling ill to AIDS. In the 1980’s, he then moved to San Francisco at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

In 1985, Williams began organizing in San Francisco to address the issue of AIDS spreading in his community. He believed efforts aimed at preventing HIV were “not culturally compatible with black gay men, and other men of color.” With the assistance of Steve Feeback and Phill Wilson, Williams began initiating the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention.

In 1986, at the age of 35, Williams was diagnosed with HIV. He later relocated with his partner Wolfgang Schreiber to Amsterdam to avoid the stigma and discrimination associated with the virus.  However, Schreiber was prohibited from entering the United States at the time because of his HIV status.

“I have known many people who are diagnosed with this disease, and other terminally ill people through my profession, who hang onto this little piece of paper they call “hope” in their hand. A lot of them die with it still clutched in their hand. My hope lies in the future. I don’t believe there will be a cure for me. I can take AZT or whatever drugs are developed to prolong my life for a time, but my hope is for finding a vaccine to prevent children of the future from getting HIV.”

— Reggie Williams

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