HIV Honors: The Most Influential Voices of 2017

Written by Josh Robbins on November 28, 2017

hiv influencers

Worldwide, approximately 36.7 million individuals are currently living with HIV, 1.1 million of them in the United States.

World AIDS Day is a celebration of the lives and memories of the approximately 35 million individuals lost to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Across the globe on December 1, advocates, activists, organizations, and loved one commemorate the day by holding special events, candlelight vigils, and demonstrations. The goal: To unite against a devastating epidemic and eventually see the end of HIV and AIDS.

At Healthline, we commemorate World AIDS Day by celebrating and honoring the activists, organizations, and initiatives that are helping to educate and raise awareness about HIV and AIDS in special and meaningful ways. Join us in recognizing the inspirational leaders in HIV advocacy and awareness in our 5th annual HIV Influencer Honors.

Best moment of the year for HIV awareness

HIV honors

On National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the first time publicly agreed that someone with HIV who has an undetectable viral load cannot transmit the virus sexually. This was the culmination of the tireless work of advocates and activists who had been placing relentless pressure on the federal agency for years. In an unexpected letter on September 27, the CDC stated: “that people who take ART daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.”

Person of the year

HIV honors

Bruce Richman is the founder of Prevention Access Campaign and the powerful leader behind the #UequalsU movement. Diagnosed with HIV in 2003, Richman learned in 2012 that by being undetectable he couldn’t transmit HIV sexually. He ambitiously set out to share that information with the world in hopes of lessening the fear and stigma that those living with HIV experience. Recognized internationally as the leader of one the most freeing messages for people living with HIV, we’re proud to name Bruce Richman as the Healthline HIV Influencers Honors Person of the Year.

Best HIV patient advocacy organization

HIV honors

Prevention Access Campaign’s #UequalsU continues to be the biggest movement and news in 2017 in the HIV community. “U=U” stands for “Undetectable equals untransmittable.” It’s about spreading the message that those living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load for at least six months aren’t capable of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner, even in the absence of condoms. Over the past 18 months, the campaign received more than 500 endorsements from international AIDS service organizations, government agencies, and leading and respected researchers.

Best advocate for female HIV health

HIV honors

Kamaria Laffrey is an international HIV advocate, speaker, and activist working on HIV decriminalization, empowerment for women’s and girls’ health, and HIV treatment adherence. 2017 was the 10-year anniversary for Laffrey’s advocacy work in the HIV community. Her passion is obvious in her work, but the ability she has to connect with those listening to her story is profound and meaningful.

Best new HIV awareness campaign

HIV honors

Positively Fearless, presented by PREZCOBIX, is the HIV awareness campaign from Janssen Therapeutics that focuses on the racial disparity of HIV in men of color. The campaign utilizes influencers in the Black and Hispanic gay and bisexual community to convey the message of being positively fearless to fight the HIV epidemic. The campaign also participates and offers in-person educational outreach targeting this specific population at pride events in Washington D.C. and Atlanta.

Best ongoing HIV awareness campaign

HIV honors

A Day with HIV is an anti-stigma campaign from Positively Aware magazine. It features photographs taken by individuals around the world diagnosed with HIV, as well as the supporters of those affected by the epidemic. Every year in September, the campaign solicits these images from people around the world in one 24-hour period — to showcase the everyday lives of individuals living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

Best Canadian-focused HIV website

HIV honors

PositiveLite.com remains a leading voice in HIV news and advocacy in Canada. For the fifth consecutive year, we name them the top Canadian HIV resource. This year, the publication became a powerful advocate and vocal supporter of the #UequalsU campaign in Canada, helping to push AIDS service organizations to endorse the movement. Publisher Bob Leahy also continues to publish activists’ stories and opinions on their website, ensuring that fresh perspectives are always heard in the HIV community.

Best government resource website for HIV and AIDS training

HIV honors

In the spring of 2017, AIDS.gov changed its name to HIV.gov to better reflect the conversations already occurring on social media, and to help users who utilize online search engines to find the information they need more efficiently. The website remains the model for how to utilize digital media to respond to current and future health epidemics. Miguel Gomez from the Department of Health and Human Services continues to lead the website’s vision and content.

Best HIV community forum

HIV honors

Since its launch in 1994, POZ has been a leading publisher of HIV news and opinions, and a vital resource to people affected by HIV and AIDS. Their community forum allows users to discuss important issues, share personal stories of overcoming stigma, and find answers to their HIV-related questions. The POZ community forums offer an around-the-clock discussion area for those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

Best long-term HIV survivors campaign

HIV honors

Let's Kick ASS is a movement established by Tez Anderson in 2013, and is committed to empowering long-term survivors of HIV and AIDS, and raising awareness for AIDS Survivor Syndrome. With the improvement of the outlook for people living with HIV, issues like aging are becoming more important for the community to address. Each year, HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day seeks to raise awareness about this increasingly important topic.

Best local or regional HIV campaign

HIV honors

DC Takes on HIV is the District of Columbia Department of Health’s five-year social marketing campaign for HIV prevention. In 2014, an independent report from Braun Research found that the initiative’s social marketing campaign resulted in 71 percent of survey respondents knowing about the city’s free condom services. And 50 percent say it contributed to them being more knowledgeable about HIV and testing.

Best government voice in HIV awareness

HIV honors

Carl W. Dieffenbach, PhD serves as the director of the Division of AIDS (DAIDS) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was one of the first government voices to confirm and spread the message that those living with HIV who are durably suppressed by antiretroviral therapy (ART) for six months aren’t infectious and cannot transmit HIV to a sexual partner. His forward thinking and vocal support of #UequalsU helped to give scientific creditability to the finding, and was a source of reassurance for millions.

Best HIV-related awareness campaign

HIV honors

Common comorbidities among people with HIV are important for the community to raise awareness about and discuss. Keep Your Pants On is a clever and lighthearted campaign that brings awareness to the issue of diarrhea among people with HIV and AIDS. It was developed by Napo Pharmaceuticals in support of Mytesi, the only FDA-approved antidiarrheal drug for people with HIV.

Best HIV feature website

HIV honors

A&U Magazine is published by Art & Understanding, Inc., a nonprofit organization with the goal of sharing and archiving the stories and artwork of HIV and AIDS activists. The publication was launched in 1991 by David Waggoner in response to losing so many of his friends and peers within the creative community. A&U Magazine wants to preserve the stories of activism, art, diversity of cultures, and educational tools, and the website features in-depth features on many activists and artists living with HIV.

Best HIV prevention on social media

HIV honors

The AMP Study from HIV Prevention Trials Network and HIV Vaccine Trials Network is a unique study which is testing — for the first time — if giving people antibodies can prevent HIV infections. This 5-year study began enrolling in 2016 with a goal of signing up 4,200 volunteer participants. The study is using social media from 47 study sites on four continents, and using video to explain the complicated science behind the study to aid enrollment, which is currently 20 percent ahead of projections.

Best HIV pop culture website

HIV honors

Plus Magazine is one of the largest publications in the United States aimed at people living with HIV and their supporters. As part of Pride Media, Plus features pop culture content relating to HIV that’s also published in OUT, The Advocate, and PRIDE. The website — led by Editor-in-Chief Diane Anderson-Minshall — is updated daily with buzzworthy HIV news and opinion articles targeting the LGBTQ community.

Best national HIV nonprofit

HIV honors

In October, the Elton John AIDS Foundation (US) announced over $6.1 million in grant awards to 77 organizations, addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic in substantial, unique, and innovative ways. Established by Sir Elton John in 1992, the organization has raised over $300 million to support their mission of ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

HIV Influencers #HIVhonors List 2017

Last year, we introduced our additional honors, recognizing additional individuals and activists that were working online to empower, educate, and advocate for those living with HIV.

This year we continue that recognition by focusing on important voices that have contributed to the powerful message of #UequalsU online. In 2017, we are proud to honor:

Healthline is proud to recognize the many individuals and groups raising awareness about HIV prevention and the treatment for HIV and AIDS.

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