amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Awards of Courage

Barbara Starrett, M.D.

Honoring with Pride 2007 Honoree


Barbara StarrettBarbara Starrett is a board certified internist who was a pioneer in efforts to bring quality health care to gay men and lesbians. She was born in Newark, New Jersey, and began her college education at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, but left after two years to move to New York City, hoping to find the women of Ann Bannon’s books. Barbara followed butches down the streets of Greenwich Village and finally found the bars. It was 1959.

After living the life of a hippie in the early 1960s, Barbara finally got her act together and earned her undergraduate degree from City College of the City University of New York in 1966. She graduated from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1970. Dr. Starrett became the first woman and the first openly gay person in the Social Medicine Residency Program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Part of the training at Montefiore included providing medical services to the people of the South Bronx at the Martin Luther King Health Center. Committed to providing health care to underserved populations, Dr. Starrett went on to work as a prison doctor at Riker’s Island. Subsequently, she served as medical director of Montefiore Health Services at Riker’s Island from 1977 to 1980, and she became an expert in the field of prison health care.

Dr. Starrett has also been a leader in efforts to bring quality health care to lesbians and gay men. She helped start the Women’s Health Collective at St. Marks Clinic, which later became the Community Health Project, and she served as the program’s medical director for many years. She was on the forefront of medical treatment for people with HIV infection since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Until recently, she was an associate attending physician at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center in New York City. She currently serves on the board of directors of Physicians Research Network, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to HIV healthcare provider education.

Known for her selfless devotion to her patients, Dr. Starrett is loved by many New Yorkers. She has been acknowledged for her work with the Health Services Award of the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, the Michael Hirsch Award from Body Positive, the Emery Hetrick Award from the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and she was recognized at World AIDS Day 2005 by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Dr. Starrett is now retired and lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her partner, Jo Ann Ellison. She has taken up golf and is working on breaking 100.