Dave Johnson, 39; L.A.’s First AIDS Coordinator, Writer on Gay Issues


Dave Johnson, who became the first AIDS coordinator for Los Angeles when Mayor Tom Bradley named him to implement the city’s $2.5-million program in 1989, died Thursday of the complications of AIDS.

A spokeswoman for the Chris Brownlie Hospice near Downtown Los Angeles said Johnson was 39 when he died there Thursday evening.

Johnson brought a wealth of experience in gay causes to the city post, where he was responsible for mobilizing the city’s efforts to cope with the AIDS epidemic. He oversaw residential units, prevention programs and even financial aid for those too ill to support themselves.


He also wrote about the disease in mainstream publications such as The Times and in the alternative press, which published many of his articles and essays. At one time he had been a reporter and editorial writer for the old Los Angeles Free Press.

Before taking the city job, he had been a co-founder and first chairman of the United AIDS Coalition of Los Angeles County--an umbrella group of 30 organizations--and executive director of Being Alive/People With AIDS Coalition. Before that he worked in the private sector as a project manager for credit, sales and advertising for May Department Stores in Los Angeles.

He turned full time to the AIDS battle after his longtime companion died in 1986.

During the early 1970s, Johnson was coordinator of the UCLA Gay Students’ Union and coordinator of the Gay Community Services Center.

Survivors include his parents, Russell and Connie Johnson, and a brother and sister.

Services are pending.