Bob Leahy honoured with award for decades of leadership in social justice for the HIV/AIDS community
Bob Leahy is being recognized with The Casey Award for decades of leadership in social justice for the HIV/AIDS community. The award honours Leahy’s many years of advocacy and information sharing, with contributions to the issues of HIV and aging, U=U, and optimal health and well-being.
Dubbed a ‘community elder’ among people living with HIV, Bob has been an engaged volunteer and activist in the HIV community since his diagnosis in the early 1990s.
He has been involved with governance of AIDS service organizations from the Peterborough AIDS Resource Network and Ontario HIV Treatment Network, to the Canadian AIDS Society, and has also been a vocal advocate for seniors living with HIV, raising awareness and advocating for the unique needs. Realize executive director Tammy Yates called him “one of the most tireless, strategic and passionate advocates” she has had the pleasure to work with.
Leahy was publisher and editor of PositiveLite.com, a Canadian peer-driven, volunteer-run online magazine by and for people living with HIV that for nine years captured the entirety of the HIV experience. It published thousands of articles, up to three in one day, and had tremendous influence, with articles regularly shared by other sites.
According to founding executive director of U=U Prevention Access Campaign Bruce Richman, Bob was one of a handful of people from around the globe whose courage, commitment and tireless dedication grew the idea of Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U) into a worldwide movement. Bob took a courageous, personal and unpopular stand on behalf of people living with HIV. He shared the message about the role of an undetectable viral load in HIV prevention before it was accepted by AIDS service organizations and HIV clinical practice. In 2016, when U=U was still controversial in the HIV medical, public health and PLWA communities, though Bob was criticized and shamed personally and professionally, he continued to persevere and made use of all his resources to put forth the science. These efforts launched the national U=U movement, including getting CATIE to sign on in 2017 as the first globally recognized HIV information resource organization, and made history when the Canadian government joined as the first official U=U country, endorsing it on World AIDS Day in 2018. He had a transformative impact on the growth of a message now accepted by the global medical and scientific community.
Bob recently retired from his volunteer career, says Bruce Richman, “He is a fierce warrior with a heart of gold – perhaps so big and full that it caused him some trouble lately.”
Casey House extends warm congratulations to Bob Leahy on achieving this recognition.