It is my great pleasure to let you know that two of our writers, editor Bob Leahy and contributor Denise Becker, have been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to work in the field of HIV/AIDS.
Both Denise and Bob write elsewhere on the site today about what receiving this award means to them. Here I want to outline some of the reasons Bob and Denise were chosen for this prestigious award.
Denise Becker, who lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, has been involved in the HIV/AIDS movement since 1996. She was one of the first openly HIV-positive Canadian women to speak publicly about her diagnosis and about loosing a child to AIDS. She has continued to teach what it is like to be a woman living with HIV, most recently as one of the spokespeople for Vancouver’s HIV: It’s Different Now campaign. Denise’s achievements over the years reflect the GIPA (greater involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS) principle through her membership on numerous boards and committees, demonstrating that openly HIV-positive women are capable of working in governance and with the media despite living in rural or small town communities, where HIV stigma remains prevalent.
Bob Leahy, a banker by profession, was diagnosed with HIV in 1993 and since then has held volunteer positions throughout the HIV community. Currently living in rural Ontario, he is a past chair of PARN (Peterborough AIDS Resource Network) and past executive board member of both the Canadian AIDS Society and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network. He is an honour roll recipient of the Ontario AIDS Network for outstanding service to the community. Editor of PositiveLite.com since its beginning in 2009, Bob also writes for TheBody.com. His interests lie in exploring innovative, technology-based ways to empower people living with HIV, social media, gay men’s sexual health and making HIV-related research more accessible to people living with HIV.
Please join me in congratulating both Denise and Bob on receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the accession of the Queen to the Throne and in thanking them for their dedication to the HIV/AIDS movement in Canada.
Want to know more about this award? Watch The Making of a Medal: Peter Mansbridge shares the story of Canada’s commemorative medal, approved by the Queen herself.