Gay local theatre legend, Blaise Koch, known both for his work in entertainment as well as his HIV/AIDS activism, has died. He was 55 years old.

An award winning writer, director, performer and motivational speaker, Koch died on Monday morning in his sleep.

He had lived as an openly HIV positive man since 1998 and had spoken and written about living with the virus on many occasions.

Born in East London in the Eastern Cape, he studied performance at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the London School of Mime before going on to appear in numerous stage productions, including at the renowned Space Theatre in Cape Town.

He further worked as a lecturer at UCT and most recently was a Vocal and Dialogue Coach on the soap Egoli – Place of Gold.

In 2002, he delivered the inaugural UNAIDS speech, alongside special UN envoy Stephen Lewis, for the Namibia Coalition against AIDS.

That year he also published an autobiography titled Blaise Koch: In, Around, Through and Out – an Actor’s Life, in which is explored his life as a performer and a gay man living with HIV.

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