Thursday, 19 December 2013

Carrying the Torch for HIV

Only 50 days to go before the Sochi Winter Olympics. I can’t believe how quickly time has flown since London 2012. Of course, a lot has happened since then, not least of which being the anti-gay legislation passed in Russia and the continuing boycott debate. Space restricts discussion on the controversy let’s look at a positive angle to the Olympics.

And “Positive” is today’s focus. With the torch relay still in progress I’ve looked at Olympic torch bearers who are HIV+ or work for AIDS charities.

Some of these names appear on my previous list, but this one includes those who are not lgbt. In each case the person’s HIV status or connection has been recognised by torch relay organisers. The list is long, so I’ve decided NOT to include celebrities known to support AIDS causes unless they are HIV+ or their nomination mentions it specifically. As before, names are in chronological order, with HIV status if appropriate, involvement in the HIV community, date of relay and location. Further research is likely to increase this list.

Atlanta 1996
Pandora Singleton, head of Project Azuka, a support agency for HIV+ women, member of the National Minority AIDS Council Board of Directors; she died in 2004; Sister Love Inc. (another women’s HIV/AIDS support agency) created the annual Pandora Singleton Ally Award, given for outstanding work with those with HIV/AIDS: 10 July 1996, Savannah, USA.
Rebecca Alexander, volunteer with Project Open Hand, a charity which delivers meals to people with HIV/AIDS in the San Francisco Bay area: date and location uncertain.
Brett Lykins, HIV+, born prematurely in 1980 and infected by a blood transfusion before he was 3 months old, Youth Spokesperson for AIDS Walk Atlanta; he died in 2007: date and location uncertain.
Sydney 2000
Susan Paxton, HIV+, women’s rights advocate, adviser to the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV: date and location uncertain.
Salt Lake City 2002
Mark Nowak, HIV+, retail assistant at Avalon Apparel, New York: 1 Jan. 2002, Buffalo, New York State.
Leonard Ditmanson, Medical Director of the Ryan White Early Intervention Service Clinic (specialising in HIV/AIDS), and the Immunodeficiency Clinic, University Physicians Healthcare Hospital, University of Arizona: 13 Jan. 2002, Tuscon, Arizona.
Jim Valiton, HIV+, of Tuscon Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network; he died in 2008: 13 Jan. 2002, Tuscon, Arizona.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, HIV+, former professional basketball player: 15 Jan. 2002, Los Angeles, USA.
Dennis J. Lee, HIV+, long-term HIV survivor: 8 Feb. 2002, Salt Lake City.
Paul Harris, HIV+, journalist with POZ magazine: Dec. 2001, location uncertain.
Athens 2004
The first 7 names all carried the torch through Cape Town, South Africa, on 12 June 2004.
Magdalene Dladla, charity fundraiser, who uses her own home to care of HIV/AIDS orphans;
Musa Queen Njoko, HIV+, one of the first South African women to declare her status in 1995, works with UNAIDS;
Shaun Mellors, HIV+, founder of the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa;
Prudence Mabele, HIV+, founder of Positive Women’s Network in South Africa;
Gail Johnson, foster mother of Nkosi Johnson, who died of AIDS in 2001 aged 12; she set up Nkosi’s Haven, a shelter for destitute people living with HIV/AIDS;
Paul Roux, medical student at University of Cape Town, founder of the Kidzpositive Family Fund;
Joy Wilson, head of Joy for Life, a charity which helps with the various needs of people with HIV/AIDS.
John Bauters, Red Cross volunteer, has worked educating African children about the dangers of AIDS: 19 June 2004, Atlanta, USA.
Jackie Chan, OBE, movie director and action man, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador: 23 July 2004, Thessalonika, Greece.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, HIV+, his second time as an Olympic relay torchbearer: date and place uncertain.
Beijing 2008
John Caldera, HIV+, San Francisco Veteran Affairs Commission member: 9 April 2008, San Francisco, USA.
Dhamiri Mustapha, HIV+, board member of Tanzania National Council of Young People Living with HIV and AIDS: 13 April 2008, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
Jackie Chan, OBE, movie director and action man, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, his second time as a torchbearer: 4 May 2008, Sanya, China.
Vancouver 2010
Tom Hammond, HIV+, Executive Director of the AIDS Committee of Guelph and Wellington County, Ontario: 20 Dec. 2009, Owen Sound, Ontario.
Eric Sawyer, HIV+; founder member of ACT-UP, Civil Society Partnership Adviser to UNAIDS: 20 Jan. 2010, Calgary, Alberta.
Tiko Kerr, HIV+, artist and AIDS activist and charity fundraiser: 10 Feb. 2010, Vancouver.
London 2012
Helen Allen, founder of PREPAIDS (Peer Education Programme Against AIDS), a charity helping with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa; UK Nurse of the Year 2011: 29 May 2012, Chester.
Cameron Foster, student, volunteer with Cricket Without Boundaries which combines coaching Kenyan schoolchildren in cricket and HIV/AIDS awareness: 31 May 2012, Hindley, Greater Manchester.
Kelly Williams, teacher, volunteer coach in HIV awareness to underprivileged children in Lusaka, Zambia: 18 June 2012, Whitby, Yorkshire.
Asunta Wagura, HIV+, Executive Director of Kenya Network of Women with AIDS: 1 July 2012, Solihull, West Midlands.
Stefanie Daniels, volunteer worker with a group who provided care for children orphaned though HIV/AIDS: 8 July 2012, Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
Peter Hellawell, HIV+, Chair of the Trustees of Positive Action, charity marathon runner: 12 July 2012, Bridport, Dorset.
Colin Bentley, nursing assistant on an HIV ward, charity marathon runner: 17 July 2012, Brighton.
Lewis Moody, former international rugby player for England, Patron of HOPE HIV, supporting AIDS orphans in Africa: 26 July 2012, Fulham, London.
Emma Harley, Paediatric nursing sister, works with street children and disadvantaged communities in Kenya affected by HIV/AIDS: 26 July 2012, Fulham, London.
London 2012 Paralympic
The following are volunteers with Act4Africa, a charity that trains Africans affected by HIV/AIDS to deliver healthcare, AIDS prevention and Stigma Reduction programmes across East Africa. They each carried torches as a group, 5 Sept. 2012, through Harrow, Greater London.
Kathy Smedley, founder of Act4Africa;
Meigan Lyons, former Mayor of Minehead;
Hannah Lane;
Lesley-Ann (Lily) Newman;
Dora Witcomb.

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