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National Leader on Latino HIV/AIDS Rights Dies

El Diario/La Prensa, Posted: Dec 17, 2009

NEW YORKDennis De Leon, one of the most recognized national leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS, died Monday in Manhattan at the age of 61, reports El Diario/La Prensa. De Leon, who was of Mexican descent, was the first Latino in a public position in the country to admit that he had HIV at a time when the stigma and discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS meant social ostracism. In 1993, De Leon wrote an opinion piece featured in The New York Times in which he admitted to having the virus. He became president of the Latino Commission on AIDS the following year.

"Dennis was a passionate supporter of our community who always demanded equal rights. He was the person responsible for giving a voice and purpose to the Latino awareness movement and fight against the AIDS epidemic," said Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, president of the Hispanic Federation.

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