BY Christopher Mangum
December 14 2009 5:25 PM ET
Dennis deLeon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS and former New York City human rights commissioner, passed away at the age of 61 on Monday in Manhattan.
According to Bruce Kienan, DeLeon’s longtime companion, the activist died as a result of heart failure.
DeLeon learned he was HIV-positive in 1986, and in 1993 he disclosed his status in The New York Times.
When DeLeon became president of the Latino Commission on AIDS in 1994, the organization that had a staff of two. According to Times, under his leadership, which ended a few months ago, the staff grew to 45 and the company’s budget expanded to $5 million.
The Latino Commission on AIDS works in partnership with 380 organizations, and in 2003 the group sponsored the first National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, now observed annually on October 15 in 40 states.