Kiyoshi Kuromiya was a leading activist and organizer around the issues of justice for people living with HIV/AIDS, who lived in Philadelphia, PA for most of his life. His work, while focused, was intersectional and cross-issue, as he worked to make survival easier for people with HIV/AIDS. It wasn’t until the late 2010s, almost 20 years after his death, that he began to recieve more mainstream recognition for his work. Below is a message, from the ACT UP NY archives, from the time of his passing. Even this brief memorialization from his comrades misses many of his contributions to the movement for collective liberation.
From the archives of ACT UP NY:
“We regret to inform you that Kiyoshi Kuromiya, one of the world’s leading AIDS activists, died on May 9th, 2000 due to complications from AIDS. To the last, Kiyoshi remained an activist, insisting on and receiving the most aggressive treatment for cancer and the HIV that complicated its treatment. He participated fully in every treatment decision, making sure that he, his friends and fellow activists were involved with his treatment every step of the way. He never gave up.
Kiyoshi devoted his life to the struggle for social justice. He was a committed civil rights and anti-war activist. He was also one of the founders of Gay Liberation Front-Philadelphia and served as an openly gay delegate to the Black Panther Convention that endorsed the gay liberation struggle.
As a pioneering AIDS activist, Kiyoshi was involved in all aspects of the moment, including radical direct action with ACT UP Philadelphia and the ACT UP network, PWA empowerment and coalition-building through We The People Living with HIV/AIDS, national and international research advocacy, and loving and compassionate mentorship and care for hundreds of people living with HIV. Kiyoshi was the editor of the ACT UP Standard of Care, the first standard of care for people living with HIV produced by PWAs.
Kiyoshi is perhaps best known as the founder of the Critical Path Project, which brought the strategies and theories of his associate/mentor Buckminster Fuller to the struggle against AIDS. The Critical Path newsletter, one of the earliest and most comprehensive sources of HIV treatment information, was routinely mailed to thousands of people living with HIV all over the world. He also sent newsletters to hundreds of incarcerated individuals to insure their access to up-to-date treatment information.
Critical Path provides free access to the Internet to thousands of people living with HIV in Philadelphia and this region, hosted over a hundred AIDS related web pages and discussion lists, and showed a whole generation of activists and people living with HIV that the Internet can be a tool for information, empowerment and organizing. He was a leader in the struggle to maintain freedom of speech on the Internet, participating in the successful lawsuit against the Internet Decency Act.
Kiyoshi understood science and was involved locally, nationally and internationally in AIDS research. As both a treatment activist and clinical trials participant, he fought for community based research, and for research that involves the community in its design. He fought for research that mattered to the diversity of groups affected by AIDS, including people of color, drug users, and women.
He fought for appropriate research on alternative and complementary therapies as well, and was the lead plaintiff in the Federal class action lawsuit on medicinal marijuana.
In the first issue of Critical Path, published in 1989, he wrote, “it is our conviction that . . . a heroic endeavor is now needed both to provide for the continuing health maintenance of Persons With AIDS the world over, and, by the year 2001 to find a cure for the ravages of AIDS for all time.” That task he set us still remains unfinished.
We will miss Kiyoshi’s intelligence and the clear and even analysis he brought to any meeting or political activity. We will miss his commitment and dedication to the idea that all people living with HIV should participate in the decisions that will affect their lives. And we will miss his wit, his smile, his sense of fun.
If you want to honor Kiyoshi, we urge you to make a donation to the activist organization of your choice. And sometime soon, today, or tomorrow, or next week, take the opportunity to speak truth to power, join a picket line you might have passed by, or help plan a demonstration against global injustice that you thought you were too busy to be involved with. He would have liked that.”