Jeff Labrecque
December 18, 2012 AT 10:35 PM EST

Spencer Cox, the New York-based AIDS activist who was featured in the Oscar-hopeful documentary How to Survive a Plague, died today at 44. That film’s director David France announced the news online and included an outtake from his last interview with Cox that captures his friend’s unbreakable spirit.

“Spencer Cox, a star figure in How to Survive a Plague and a hero to many, died this morning. He was just 44 years old. As an AIDS activist, he helped spearhead research on protease inhibitors and played a central role in bringing the drugs to market — and saving 8 million lives. Over the years, he was a frequent and always brilliant source of mine, and a good friend.

— David France, 12/18/12

Watch the video below:

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