Alan Berkman

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 11 August 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3245
  1. Bob Roehr

    Radical doctor who helped bring HIV drugs to millions

    The US physician Alan Berkman will be best remembered for his role in helping to make life saving HIV treatments available to millions of people in the developing world. It was the capstone to the unique and colourful life of an advocate who pushed for radical social justice. That journey included service to the most marginalised of people at home and abroad; eight years in federal prison; and the prestige of an Ivy League university.

    A New Yorker by birth, Berkman became radicalised during the Vietnam war while an undergraduate student at Cornell and at medical school at Columbia University. He joined the leftist Students for a Democratic Society and its more radical Weather Underground faction.

    He brought his medical skills to the service of prisoners who, complaining about living conditions, rioted and seized control of the large state prison in Attica, New York, in the autumn of 1971. By the time authorities regained control four days later, 10 prison employees and 29 prisoners had died.

    Two years later when members of the American Indian Movement seized the small town of Wounded Knee in South Dakota …

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