People We Love 2019: Cliff Morrison

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Cliff Morrison

Cliff Morrison courtesy the Subject

Why should LGBTQ people thank Cliff Morrison? He changed the way our healthcare system treats people with AIDS forever.

Cliff Morrison: Unlikely Movie Star

Cliff Morrison is an unlikely movie star. But he’s unquestionably a hero.

In the early ‘80s Morrison created a ward at San Francisco General for patients suffering from a disease first known as “gay cancer.” His story is retold in 5B, a film that tracks the lives of those who passed through the ward over the course of the epidemic.

At that time, no one could say for certain how AIDS was spread. Morrison, who had been through a Shanti Project training, was tapped to consult with doctors, patients and families. And when he couldn’t save his patients’ lives, he decided to help them die with dignity and knowing they were loved. He guessed AIDS was blood-borne early on – although others considered his assessment reckless.

Cliff Morrison Set a New Standard

Ultimately, Cliff Morrison’s groundbreaking ideas became standard.

“I wasn’t wearing any of the professional protective equipment, but I was following general infection control protocols,” he recalls.

”I thought, ‘If this is killing all my brothers, it’ll probably get me, too. So I’m not going to stand by. I’ll take control of my own destiny.’ And that’s exactly how I approached it.”

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Read our coverage of the movie that chronicles Cliff Morrison’s life-changing care.

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Last modified: January 2, 2020