Joe Carroccio, the openly gay leader of the Cleveland chapter of ACT UP for the past decade, died January 3 at University Hospitals of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer reports. He was 45. Carroccio died of heart failure due to complications from hepatitis and cirrhosis. He also was HIV-positive and had progressed to an AIDS diagnosis. Carroccio cofounded the Cleveland chapter of ACT UP and helped plan the city's first World AIDS Day events in 1993. He also was active with the Living Room HIV/AIDS drop-in center (a counseling service of the Lesbian-Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland) and chaired the AIDS Clinical Trial Unit's Community Advisory Board at University Hospitals.
"I was so impressed with Joe's commitment, passion, energy," said Earl Pike, executive director of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. "He always had fabulous ideas and a keen sense of what needed to be tackled. I always loved Joe's slightly manic style. He was a working-class intellectual, one of those people who knew as much as his physician about treatment and understood the issues--like the fact that not providing clean syringes to drug users was tantamount to a kind of genocide."
A memorial service is planned for February. Carroccio is survived by his partner, James Campbell, his parents, and two brothers.