The CHIPTS community continues to mourn the passing of Dr. Billy Cunningham on January 3rd, 2020. Dr. Cunningham has been an integral member of the CHIPTS scientific community for the duration of the center’s life-cycle. Throughout Dr. Cunningham’s too brief life, he was a warrior for social justice. His energies focused with laser-like precision on finding ways to demolish barriers to health for those among us who have the least in our society. His research engaged ways to improve the health of members of race/ethnic and sexual/gender minorities who live with HIV and who become involved with the criminal justice system. These efforts remain groundbreaking and have set the agenda for interventions here locally in Los Angeles and even nationally.
Dr. Cunningham’s greatest joy was being a mentor – whether to postdocs, fellows and junior faculty, or to his friends and family, he taught us a most important lesson: “Don’t Quit.” Dr. Cunningham made sure that all of his mentees made our work relevant to changing lives and when problems arose to threaten our work, he would remind us: “Don’t Quit!” He invigorated in us all a deep commitment and energy toward our work, enlisting mentees and fellow faculty members to join him in the task of ensuring access to health care for all of us, but especially among those living with disparities.
At CHIPTS, we remember Dr. Cunningham, remain committed to continuing his body of work, and fight to reduce inequities for the betterment of the health of all.