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Remembering Robert Frascino, M.D.

September 20, 2011

Robert J. Frascino, M.D.

This page contains a collection of thoughts from TheBody.com's staff and team of experts on the passing of Dr. Frascino. Please share your personal thoughts via the comments section.

If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Bob's life and accomplishments, we encourage you to read his obituary, which was published in the San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Sept. 30.


Robert James Frascino, M.D., our long-time friend and expert, passed away on Saturday from bacterial sepsis. He was 59 years old. Known as "Dr. Bob" to so many, he was easily one of the most incredible and inspiring people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

Bob was a brilliant immunologist who was working in HIV well before he became HIV positive in 1991. In the mid-90s, he and his husband, Steve Natterstad, M.D. formed a charity called The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation which has raised more than $1,500,000 for various HIV/AIDS causes. Each year, Bob and Steve, both pianists, perform at their benefit called A Concerted Effort. Tragically, the event was to be held this past Sunday, the day after Bob's passing.

Bob started working with TheBody.com in May 2000 as a host in our Q&A forums. Since then, he has touched millions of people through his Q&A forums on HIV prevention and HIV-related fatigue and anemia, as well as his blog.

He answered nearly 30,000 questions over that time period -- truly astounding. Any other person would have burnt out years ago, but Bob was going just as strong last week as the day he started. No matter how inane or serious the question, Bob always found a way to bring humor to every response. He never sugar-coated anything, never shied away from his political inclinations and never met a pun he didn't like. His singular wit made his forums a must read for HIV-positive and HIV-negative people alike.

I know that his work on our site meant as much to him as it did to the multitudes he helped. I can truly say that our lives (and our site) will never be the same without his limitless generosity, ebullient spirit and undying passion. As we mourn Bob's passing, we celebrate all that he accomplished in his remarkable life. Our thoughts are with Steve and their families. I would encourage you all to donate to Bob and Steve's foundation in his memory.

-- Aryeh Lebeau, general manager of TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com


When you're a part of the HIV/AIDS community, you tend to accept -- a little more readily than others might -- that death will come to us all eventually. That doesn't make it suck any less when it comes. Many of us, whether we're living with HIV or not, end up living far longer than we could have hoped. Bob was taken away from us far sooner than I could have remotely imagined.

There are people you meet, in the course of your work and your life, who become fixtures in your mind, in your soul. They are your rocks, the people you know will always be there, the people who represent ideals you wish you could achieve. In life -- and now, as I have to accept, in death -- Bob is my ever-smiling vision of patient, unrelenting optimism in the face of an ocean of doubt. His capacity for giving was stunning. It was endless. What you can see of him on our site -- in his forums, as well as his blog -- barely scratches the surface.

That said, though, when I look at Bob's last post in his "Safe Sex" forum, which he wrote three days before he died, I feel it's so perfectly emblematic of what I loved about him: His humor, his patience, his unwavering positivity, and the sheer depth of his care and compassion for people in need of help and advice. When you were around Bob, you just couldn't help but feel happier; imagine how you feel reading any of the thousands of missives he wrote on our site, and then amplify it a hundredfold.

I had already cherished my memories of the time I've been able to spend with Bob and Steve, and regretted how infrequent those opportunities were. Bob's passing does nothing to alter that. It just makes me unspeakably sad that I won't be able to add new memories of him to the shoebox I hold close and warm next to my heart.

-- Myles Helfand, editorial director of TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com


When I started at TheBody.com, my first few weeks of work consisted largely of trying to learn my way around this huge website. More than anything else, I spent time reading through Dr. Bob's forum on safer sex and prevention. I was drawn to it not only because it was entertaining to read, but because it exemplifies what TheBody.com has tried to do: provide accurate, important information to the people who need it most. Dr. Bob was a champion of doing exactly that.

One of the strange realities of working at a website is how well you can feel you know someone you've never even met face to face. I almost can't believe I never so much as spoke to Dr. Bob on the phone, because his warmth and charm radiated from every word he wrote.

He will be, and is already, deeply missed.

-- Becky Allen, site manager of TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com


While we never met in person, I have counted Bob as a friend for over a decade. All those years ago, when I was relatively new to the science of HIV, I wrote him with a few questions about something he had written for TheBody.com. I was surprised by his response. He had taken the time to explain much more than I was asking, and peppered his response with his unique humor and style. That email started our long, long-distance relationship through which he continued to expand my understanding of HIV. However, my most cherished moments with him were when we went "off topic" into music, politics, travel and life in general. He was not only a hilarious man with much to say, but also a genuinely interested and engaged listener.

I have been astounded by the incredible amount of time Bob devoted to TheBody.com over the years. I have seen him help so many people, providing them with information and lifting their spirits in a way that only he could. If the measure of a life well lived is based on the number of lives a person touches in a positive way, then Bob lived far better than anyone I've ever known.

-- Ken Stockwell, web producer of TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com


In the following posts, some of TheBody.com's experts answer readers' questions about Dr. Bob's passing:





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