NIH OAR statement on the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The NIH Office of AIDS Research is saddened by the loss of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, on December 26, 2021. The HIV community and the world lost an exemplary spiritual and human rights leader. Archbishop Tutu tirelessly fought against apartheid in South Africa, denounced HIV/AIDS denialism and discrimination, advocated for HIV prevention—particularly in women, adolescents and young people, and denounced laws that criminalize sexual orientation as inherently wrong. During his life-long crusade against injustice, he saved countless lives and afforded dignity and hope to those oppressed by the stigma of HIV and tuberculosis by changing prevention and treatment paradigms. He advocated for access to life-saving HIV treatments on the principle that alleviating human suffering takes precedence over for-profit considerations.

Archbishop Tutu was born into poverty and suffered from South Africa’s entrenched racial discrimination. Still, he raised above formidable limitations inspired by his spiritual calling to remind humanity about the value of human life and dignity.

We send our deepest condolences to Archbishop Tutu’s family, to our colleagues in the fight to end HIV in South Africa and globally, and to all the people of South Africa. We hope they will find comfort knowing that the lives of many will continue to be touched by Archbishop Tutu’s transcendental legacy.

Maureen M. Goodenow, Ph.D.
Associate Director for AIDS Research and
Director, Office of AIDS Research
National Institutes of Health

This page last reviewed on December 28, 2021