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HIV/AIDS Advocate Jeff Getty Dies at Age 49

October 16, 2006

Prominent HIV/AIDS advocate Jeff Getty, 49, died on Oct. 9 in Joshua Tree, Calif., of heart failure following chemotherapy treatment for cancer, the AP/Albany Times Union reports. Getty, who was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s, in December 1995 underwent an experimental bone marrow transplant using cells taken from a baboon, a species that has shown natural immunity to HIV. The transplant was unsuccessful in making Getty resistant to the virus, but his health improved, according to the AP/Times Union (AP/Albany Times Union, 10/15). Getty advocated for early approval of experimental HIV/AIDS treatments and increased access to antiretroviral drugs for HIV-positive people, and he was a "pioneer" who helped enable the development of highly active antiretroviral therapy, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Getty also created experimental guidelines for liver transplants for people living with AIDS, many of whom experience liver failure because of hepatitis or the toxicities of their antiretroviral treatment. Getty's partner of 26 years, Ken Klueh, said Getty was proudest of these efforts (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/15). Steven Deeks, a University of California-San Francisco professor who was the lead investigator of the baboon bone marrow transplant, said Getty was "emblematic of a whole group of men who survived AIDS in the early 1980s and 1990s and made it into the HAART era but had developed so much resistance to the drugs that they never got their virus fully under control" (AP/Albany Times Union, 10/15).

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