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Celebrating Community Champions 2021

Recognising inspiring action
and unsung supporters in HIV

In 2021, NAPWHA and Gilead launched the Community Champions aimed at finding and celebrating the unsung heroes supporting the HIV sector in Australia.

We were looking for those working behind the scenes in HIV healthcare or support services for people living with HIV, those working in research or education, or the countless allies or advocates helping to better educate others on HIV or break down stigma.

We received nominations from across Australia and although all are Community Champions doing exceptional things to support people living with HIV in Australia, we could only celebrate five for 2021.

Individual videos will be published throughout December 2021

Introducing our
2021 Community Champions

David Polson (he/him)

David Polson (he/him) — HIV Advocate

“When I was first diagnosed, I made a pledge I would do anything I could to help medical science increase its knowledge about HIV/ AIDS. Anything. I’m not a doctor or a medical professional, so all I could do was participate in the trials when they came up – and that’s what I did.”

Phillip Keen (he/him)

Phillip Keen (he/him) — Coordinator of the NSW HIV Prevention Partnership Project (NHPPP), Kirby Institute

“Many people work in HIV prevention because they are committed on a deeply personal level. I have the privilege of working with over forty of these dedicated individuals from partner organisations who have helped enable the success we’ve achieved today.”

Emil Cañita (he/she/they)

Emil Cañita (he/she/they) — Peer Navigator & GenNext Coordinator at Living Positive Victoria

“Problems with migration and access to timely support and quality treatment are still some of the many issues migrating people living with HIV face to this day. I hope to have more spaces in our HIV movement for people of different genders, sexuality, cultures and ethnicities to be in positions of power and influence. Our bodies are not just for marketing material, area of research and frontline work. It’s time for people like us to also have a seat at the table.”

Dr Jennifer Power (she/her)

Dr Jennifer Power (she/her) — HIV Researcher, Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society at La Trobe University

“The science of HIV treatment and prevention has been an incredible success story, but there is a lot of work to be done to support quality of life for people living with HIV, stigma and social support.”

Andrew Buchanan (he/him)

Andrew Buchanan (he/him) — Policy, Research and Evaluation Manager, Bobby Goldsmith Foundation

“It doesn’t matter how significant a role you play – everyone’s role is meaningful. We achieve our best outcomes by collaborating, sharing ideas and insights and working together as one community.”

Why is it important to celebrate
the Community Champions?

There are currently an estimated 29,000 people living with HIV in Australia and with continued improvements in treatment and support for people living with HIV and focus on prevention through PrEP and U=U, the trend over the last five years has seen a decline in new notifications.[1]

There is however still more we need to do to ensure we get to zero new transmissions in Australia, particularly in those higher risk groups such as our indigenous and migrant communities and to help all people living with HIV in Australia to live their best life.

Celebrating the Community Champions showcases some of the incredible success stories in our HIV response and help ensure the focus and momentum on HIV remains.

1. AFAO. HIV in Australia 2021. Available at; https://www.afao.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/HIV-in-Australia-2021.pdf. Last accessed November 2021.

Thank you to all our
nominators and nominees

Thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate a community champion and importantly to the nominees who so graciously consented to be nominated and share their stories. The amount and breadth of all the nominations demonstrates just how many champions we have in the community and the power of our collective response to HIV in Australia.
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