Each year since 1996, the Ontario AIDS Network (OAN) has recognized outstanding leadership and achievement within the HIV/AIDS movement in Ontario through its Honour Roll awards. The Honour Roll acknowledges the long-term and consistent contributions of individuals or organizations that use their experiences, skills, resources and voices to champion the cause of HIV/AIDS in Ontario.
The OAN is a coalition of people living with HIV and AIDS, AIDS service organizations and AIDS service programs, who work collectively to provide a just, effective response to HIV and AIDS, improve life for people infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS, and prevent the spread of the virus.
This past Saturday, the OAN inducted three people into its Honour Roll. Each of them reflected for PositiveLite.com on what being inducted into the Honour Roll meant to them. You can see and hear what they had to say in the short video at the foot of this page.
The Person with HIV/AIDS Leadership Award honours a person with HIV/AIDS who openly demonstrates resilience, providing inspiration and leadership, advocating for all people with HIV/AIDS. Recipients of the award display leadership in the face of challenge, inspire community action, and reinforce the principles of community values, while aspiring to reduce stigma and discrimination.
The 2012 award in this category went to Rob Newman. Rob, a contributor to PositiveLite.com, was diagnosed in December 1990, along with his partner Kim and two of their three young children. The family went public nationally with their HIV diagnosis to bring awareness to children and families living with HIV/AIDS. Sadly, Kim died only two years later and their eldest son Robby soon afterwards. Still, the family unit marched on. Their eldest child, Jennifer, went on to win the Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year award for her work in the AIDS movement and their youngest son Tom spent time working in Johannesburg at an orphanage for children and mothers living with HIV/AIDS. Today, Rob works as a peer support worker at the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection in London, Ontario and attributes any accolades for his work in HIV/AIDS to the bond he shares with his two children and their passion that has changed, enriched and directed their lives.
The Community Partners Award recognizes an individual or organization that works or volunteers directly or indirectly in the provision of community support through the provision of resources, research or treatment to improve quality of life and dignity for people living with HIV/AIDS.
This year, the award in this category went to Dr Barry D. Adam. Barry is a professor of sociology at the University of Windsor and a senior scientist and director of prevention research at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) with a mandate to draw together researchers, policy makers, and community-based organizations in building province-wide capacity in effective interventions for HIV prevention. With an extensive background of community-based research into HIV prevention and issues of living with HIV, Barry’s current work includes: HIV prevention and sexual health programming for HIV-positive men; HIV vulnerability among Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking men who have sex with men; the impacts of criminal prosecutions for HIV exposure and transmission on people living with HIV; the sexual health vulnerabilities of transmen; and the impacts of the introduction of marriage on same-sex couples. He also leads a multidisciplinary collaborative partnership combining molecular epidemiology, sociology, and clinical practice to bring multiple tools to bear on advancing HIV prevention.
The Caregivers Award is bestowed upon an individual or organization that works or volunteers in the direct provision of supportive care for people living with HIV/AIDS through the delivery of front line service or treatment. Recipients of this award inspire hope and dignity with compassion and respect.
This award this year went to Robin Rhodes. Born and educated in the UK, Robin became involved, in the early 1980s, as a volunteer with the London Lighthouse AIDS Hospice, the first of its kind in the world. It also offered many forms of drop-in support facilities for people living with HIV/AIDS. Robin has been a staff member of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) for 13 years, currently as community support programs coordinator. He is responsible for coordinating and overseeing a variety of client-centred programs and volunteers, manages a client caseload, and organizes seven community health forums annually. Robin sits on several committees, both internal and external to ACT, and participates in an advisory capacity on a number of community professional committees and working groups. For the past five years he has, and continues to be, a mentor with University College, University of Toronto student mentorship program, specifically in sexual diversity.