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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Gilead welcomes HIV Taskforce report and celebrates the ‘unsung heroes’

Health Industry Hub | December 1, 2023 |

Pharma News: On World AIDS Day, the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) and Gilead Sciences Australia have revealed the exceptional individuals named as the ‘2023 Community Champions’. These champions have been acknowledged for their remarkable dedication and significant contributions to HIV care, community engagement, and prevention in Australia.

In addition, Gilead has welcomed the Federal Government’s HIV Taskforce report to renew Australia’s efforts to end the HIV epidemic.

“We know there has been enormous progress made to-date in the HIV response, but there is still more to be done. At Gilead we look forward to working with Government, community organisations and the entire sector as we progress towards virtual elimination of HIV transmission in Australia by 2030,” said Jaime McCoy, General Manager of Gilead Sciences Australia and New Zealand.

The Community Champions program, now in its third year, stands as a testament to the collaborative efforts of NAPWHA and Gilead in recognising the often unsung heroes within the Australian HIV response. It aims to honour those working in healthcare, support services, community engagement, and advocacy, including allies, family members, and advocates committed to enhancing care, education, and breaking down stigma associated with HIV.

This year, the program introduced five distinctive categories to spotlight the diversity and breadth within HIV communities. These categories encompassed Family Champion, Rural and Regional Communities’ Champion, Cultural and Linguistically Diverse Communities’ Champion, First Nations Communities’ Champion, and Long-term Survivors’ Champion. The nominations, sourced from peers and community members, resulted in 19 commendable nominees, out of which one outstanding individual per category was selected by the Community Advisory Council judging panel.

The recipients of the ‘2023 Community Champions’ title are as follows:

  • Vikas Parwani, Senior Solicitor at HIV/AIDS Legal Centre – Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Community Champion
  • Judith Frecker, Clinical Nurse Coordinator, Royal Melbourne Hospital – Family Champion
  • Morgan Dempsey, Senior Indigenous Health Worker at Cairns Sexual Health Service – First Nations Community Champion
  • Geoff Harrison, Founder of Lismore Lads – Long-term Survivors’ Champion
  • Andrew Buggie, Clinical Nurse Consultant at Lismore Sexual Health Service – Rural and Regional Community Champion.

Aaron Cogle, Executive Director of NAPWHA, expressed heartfelt appreciation, stating, “Community Champions is a heart-warming peer recognition program that allows us the chance to pause from our daily advocacy, engagement, and support efforts, to reflect and recognise the incredible work of our colleagues, healthcare workers, family and friends, allies, and advocates.”

Highlighting the significance of the newly introduced categories, Mr Cogle added, “This year, we made the decision to create specific Champion categories to reflect the range and diversity within HIV communities and so that we could uncover those champions who might typically fly under the radar.”

Ms McCoy emphasised the importance of the Community Champions program in combating HIV stigma and misinformation. “We’re honoured to have partnered with NAPWHA on the Community Champions program for the third year running. It is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the incredible unsung heroes of the HIV response but importantly it is also a platform to engage and educate more people about HIV in Australia in 2023, to tackle the continued stigma and misinformation that impacts the quality of life of the 29,000 people living with HIV today.”

She continued, stating, “Our work as a sector, however, is not done. At Gilead, we will continue to support community-led programs, research, and healthcare working towards health equity for all people impacted by HIV. We believe that together, we can end the epidemic for everyone, everywhere, and we are delighted to recognise remarkable individuals like the 2023 Community Champions.”

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