French sociologist and HIV/AIDS activist Daniel Defert dies aged 85

French sociologist and HIV/AIDS activist Daniel Defert has died at the age of 85.

Defert was the partner of Michel Foucault, the writer, philosopher, and literary critic who died of an AIDS-related death in 1984. Following his passing Defert founded AIDES, the first national HIV/AIDS organisation in France. The organization’s name is a play on the French word for help – aide, and the English acronym for the disease.

Like his late partner, Defert studied philosophy, and he went on to become a Professor of Sociology. He met Foucault while the pair were both students. Their relationship lasted from 1963 until Foucault’s death.

After founding AIDES he served as the organisation’s president from 1984 until 1991. He also served as a committee member for human sciences of the International Conference on AIDS from 1986 – 1994. Additionally, he was a member of the United Nation’s World Commission for AIDS from 988 – 1993 and served on many other health group’s boards.

His work establishing AIDES was recognised with the awarding of France’s Highest civilian award Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

Roselyne Bachelot, who served as France’s Health Minister from 2007 until 2010, said Defert had fought against discrimination.

“”Immense gratitude to our dearest Daniel Defert. So many memories of our struggles to fight all forms of discrimination.” Bachelot posted to Twitter.

While the current Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, described him as a “fighter whose voice will be missed”.

AIDES, the organisation he founded, announced the news of his passing saying it was with “great sadness”.

“He leaves behind the indelible memory of a militant life and the principles of action that the 2,200 activists that we are perpetuate on a daily basis.” the group said.

OIP Staff, image by Claude Truong-Ngoc février, published under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

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