Recognising inspiring action
and unsung supporters in HIV
NAPWHA and Gilead Sciences Australia and New Zealand are excited to announce the 2023 Community Champions!
These are the unsung heroes, working behind the scenes in HIV healthcare and support services for people living with HIV, research or education, or the countless allies and advocates helping to better educate others on HIV or break down stigma. We made a deliberate decision to focus on those unsung heroes who go unnoticed in their quiet pursuit of support for the HIV sector. It is time we celebrate those champions who work behind the scenes – loudly!
Every day, people like these five Champions right across Australia are making a remarkable difference supporting those living with HIV and in HIV prevention. We received nominations from across Australia and although all are Community Champions doing exceptional things to support people living with HIV in Australia. We were blown away by the inspiring stories and nominations in 2023, and we thank you recognizing and celebrating these inspiring individuals.
2023 Community Champions
Judith Frecker (she/her)
Morgan Dempsey (he/him)
Geoff Harrison (he/him)
Andrew Buggie (he/him)
Vikas Parwani (he/him)
2022 Community Champions
2021 Community Champions
David Polson (he/him)
“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)
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)
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)
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)
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?
At the end of 2021, there was an estimated 29, 460 people living with HIV in Australia. Over the last ten years there has been a steep 48% decline in new notifications with continued improvements in treatment and support for people living with HIV, and focus on prevention through PrEP and U=U (1).
However, to ensure that we get to zero new transmissions in Australia, we need to do more. This is particularly necessary in higher risk groups including our Indigenous and migrant communities. We also need to help all people living with HIV in Australia to live their best lives.
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. UNSW Kirby Institute. HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia Annual surveillance report 2022. Available at: https://kirby.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/kirby/report/Annual-Surveillance-Report-2022_HIV.pdf. Last accessed December 2022.