Pioneering HIV/AIDS researcher David Cooper has posthumously been appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Credited with diagnosing some of the first HIV cases in Australia, Professor Cooper passed away at age 69 in Sydney in March.
On Monday he was awarded the high honour for his “eminent service to medicine, particularly in the area of HIV/AIDS research, as a clinician, scientist and administrator, to the development of treatment therapies, and to health programs in South East Asia and the Pacific.”
Professor Cooper was appointed the inaugural director of the Kirby Institute – then known as National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research – in 1986, and after his death was remembered as a giant in the field of HIV research.
He dedicated his life to the prevention, treatment and cure of HIV and spearheaded research at the Institute that helped changed the virus from that of a near certain death sentence to a chronic manageable condition which can be treated with one pill a day.
Following his death, former judge and close friend Michael Kirby said Cooper’s “special gift was having both a huge intellect and a huge heart.”
Many other prominent Australians were recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list, including swimmer Dawn Fraser, paralympian Kurt Fearnley, former politician Christine Milne and music historian Glenn A Baker.
Sex workers rights activist Julie Bates from New South Wales was appointed an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queen’s Birthday honours for her “distinguished service to community health, particularly through harm reduction programs for sex workers and people with substance abuse issues, and to those living with HIV/AIDS.”
Julie Bates has spent the past 35 years “championing the rights of sex workers — human rights, legal rights and industrial rights,” ABC News reported.
She helped set up Australia’s first Prostitute’s Collective and said it’s now “part of a huge global movement fighting for rights and caring for the most marginalised and vulnerable.”
Bates played a major role in harm reduction during the HIV/AIDs crisis, and was also involved in establishing the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA).
“There was an urgency, if we hadn’t got onto the case we would be telling a very different story in the response to HIV in Australia,” she said.
“There is no documented case of a HIV transmission from a sex worker to a client.
“I’m hoping that by receiving this award I can shine a light that sex workers are just ordinary folks doing extraordinary work, looking out for the interests of people who need love, or need attention in some way who aren’t ordinarily getting it.
“I hope this normalises who we are and what we do in some capacity.”