ZIMBABWEAN-BORN HIV researcher and community advocate, Linda Gail Bekker, will today receive the 2018 Desmond Tutu Award for HIV Prevention Research and Human Rights at the HIV Research for Prevention Conference (HIVR4P) in Madrid, Spain, for her leadership in research studies aimed at developing new HIV prevention methods.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
The HIVR4P is the world’s only scientific meeting dedicated exclusively to biomedical HIV prevention, including vaccines, antibodies, microbicides, treatment as prevention, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and new forms of HIV prevention.
The award, named in honour of outspoken South African cleric Desmond Tutu, who is one of the leading global advocates for HIV prevention and the dignity of all people, is presented every two years to an individual or organisation that has worked in an outstanding manner to advance both HIV prevention research and the human rights of people affected by HIV.
Bekker, who is the ex-president of the International Aids Society, has several clinics in impoverished Masiphumelele and New Crossroads townships of Cape Town and she has personalised models of care to save lives and help break down barriers of stigma and discrimination in HIV prevention in South Africa.
HIVR4P co-chair and University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Mike Chirenje, described Bekker as a tireless and innovative leader of efforts to ensure effective HIV prevention for all.
“Linda Gail Bekker is a tireless and innovative leader of efforts to ensure effective HIV prevention for all. From her clinics in the impoverished Masiphumelele and New Crossroads townships of Cape Town, to her role as immediate past president of the International Aids Society, Linda Gail has personalised models of care to save lives,” Chirenje said.
Bekker, who is also professor of medicine at the University of Cape Town, has advanced efforts to integrate the diagnosis, treatment and care of HIV and tuberculosis, the leading global killer of people living with HIV.
She has also co-led international research studies to develop innovative new HIV prevention methods including HIV vaccines, vaginal rings for HIV prevention and oral and injectable PrEP.
HIVR4P co-chair Susan Buchbinder, of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said Bekker reminded her every day that the goals of stopping HIV and protecting the rights of everyone affected by the epidemic are inextricably linked.