Dr. R. Scott
Hitt, an AIDS specialist and the first openly gay person to
head a presidential advisory board, has died. He was 49.
Thursday of colon cancer at his home in West Hollywood,
according to John Duran, the city's mayor and a longtime
Hitt was chairman
of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS
during President Clinton's administration in the 1990s.
''I think Scott's
legacy was drawing AIDS to the attention of the
president. He was uncompromising,'' Duran said. ''He was not
afraid of challenging the president about what would
make good public policy.''
released a set of goals in December 1996 that called for a
cure, a vaccine, and a guarantee of quality care for AIDS
patients, Hitt pressed for more measures to stem the
rapid spread of the disease among intravenous drug
''We're going to
hold the Administration's feet to the fire to make sure
the steps they take accomplish the goals they set,'' he told
the Associated Press in an interview at the time.
He criticized the
Clinton administration for its reluctance to fund
needle-exchange programs, which he said were proven to
prevent the spread of HIV.
As the number of
AIDS-related deaths declined after the advent of
virus-fighting drugs, Hitt focused his activism on gay and
lesbian issues. He continued practicing as an AIDS
doctor until he was accused in 2000 of sexually
molesting two male patients.
Hitt, in an
interview with the Los Angeles Times, acknowledged
touching one patient inappropriately and ''crossing a
boundary'' with another patient. He said he was
diagnosed with colon cancer a year earlier and, after
undergoing three surgeries and chemotherapy, his
judgment was ''impaired.''
He later gave up
his medical license after being arrested for
investigation of possessing a controlled substance.
cancer, Hitt started a foundation to promote activism in
the gay and lesbian community.
He is survived by
his companion of 27 years, Alex Koleszar, and his
sisters Alana Hoffman and Heather Martin. (Daisy Nguyen, AP)