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Dr. Alan Berkman, AIDS advocate, dies

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Alan Berkman, a New York radical whose career was interrupted by a prison term and who later started a group that brought AIDS treatment to the poor, has died.

Berkman, 63, a resident of Manhattan, suffered from cancer of the lymph nodes and died June 5, his wife, Dr. Barbara Zeller, told The New York Times. She said the cancer was first diagnosed almost 20 years ago when he was a prison inmate.

A 1967 graduate of Cornell and 1971 graduate of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Berkman retained his far-left politics while he worked as a doctor. He became a fugitive after being charged as an accessory after the fact to the deadly Brinks robbery in Nyack, N.Y., in 1981 for treating one of the participants.

He was convicted of armed robbery for a supermarket holdup and possession of explosives after he was arrested in 1985. He later renounced violence.

“Power is corrupting,” he told the Times in 1994. “And the use of violence is a form of power.”

After working with AIDS patients in South Africa, he founded Health Global Access Project, which lobbied to make anti-retroviral drugs available around the world.

© 2009 UPI. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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