August "Buzz" Pusateri, a pharmacist and beloved fixture of the Pittsburgh HIV community, died recently at age 81, reports Trib Live.
Pusateri was one of the first volunteers for the Pitt Men's Study, which describes itself as a "confidential research study of the natural history of HIV/AIDS, funded by the National Institutes of Health that has been ongoing in Pittsburgh since 1984. The Study has followed a cohort of approximately 3000 men to gather information on the epidemiology, virology, immunology, and pathology of the HIV."
Pitt Men's Study is part of a decades-long national research effort, with men in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Baltimore also taking part to lend scientists information on how HIV functions in the human body.
Pusateri, a longtime HIV survivor, remained active in the Pitt Men's Study in his senior years, visiting a clinic twice a year to donate blood and answer questions about his lifestyle. Pusateri also offered himself up for special studies that the Men's Study conducted and was a member of the group's community board, which served as a conduit between researchers and Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community.
“Buzz got it across to the community … that this had to be done for them to defeat this epidemic of AIDS,” said Charles Rinaldo, a scientist and investigator of the Pitt Men’s Study. “He was central to it. He was always there. He was a tough guy, too.”
The city's Sheperd Wellness Community, a local HIV organization, also benefited from Pusateri's contributions. He volunteered in their kitchen throughout the 1990s and worked as a chef there from 1998-2006, where he delighted in serving his friends and peers hot meals.
“He delighted in planning menus and preparing meals that were high-quality, delicious and nutritious," according to a statement from the Sheperd Wellness Community. "He always beamed with joy when our community gathered to enjoy his sumptuous dinners.”