Page last updated at 00:02 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

HIV charity campaigner knighted

Nick Partridge
Sir Nick already has an OBE

A leading UK HIV campaigner who has strived to transform attitudes towards HIV/Aids and to the role of gay men and women in society has been knighted.

Nick Partridge, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, was recognised for his 20-year service to healthcare.

Knighthoods also go to Royal College of Surgeons past president Bernard Ribeiro and president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh Neil Douglas.

Other new Sirs include Wellcome Trust's director Dr Mark Walport.

Professor Sally Davies, director of research and development at the Department of Health becomes a Dame for her services to Medicine, as does Liz Fradd, a nursing academic and fellow of the Royal College of Nursing, for her services to nursing.

Dr Nigel Lightfoot, chief adviser at the Health Protection Agency, is honoured with a CBE for the crucial role he played in the polonium 210 poisoning incident in 2006, where he oversaw the professional work.

HIV

Sir Nick said his knighthood on the New Year list was "great recognition of the pioneering work of Terrence Higgins Trust."

The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) was the first charity to be set up in response to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s.


It is remarkably significant that someone who has worked so hard in the HIV sector has finally been recognised

Edwin J Bernard, editor of HIV Treatment Update

It's roots were in the gay community and, for many years, the HIV epidemic in the UK affected mainly gay men. As the shape of the epidemic changed, so did the THT, under the guidance of Sir Nick.

He joined the Trust in 1985 as the office manager, one of only two full-time paid posts, and became its head in 1991. He was tasked with overcoming public anti-gay prejudice and convincing politicians about the urgency of the HIV situation.

He has campaigned hard for research funding and progress and now, thanks to pioneering medical work and the discovery of antiretroviral therapy in the 1990s, the diagnosis of HIV is no longer a death sentence.

Influential

In 2004, Nick was appointed a Commissioner of the Healthcare Commission, the independent inspectorate responsible for reviewing the quality of healthcare in England.

In 2006, he was declared one of the 100 most influential gay and lesbian people in Britain by the Independent.

He is also chair of INVOLVE, an advisory group promoting public involvement in NHS, public health and social care research.

Sir Nick said: "I'm absolutely delighted. This is great recognition of the pioneering work of Terrence Higgins Trust, the importance of patient and public involvement in health research through INVOLVE and the impact of the health watchdog, the Healthcare Commission. I'm very privileged to work with three amazing organisations and to be honoured in this way."

The THT provides a wide range of sexual health and HIV services to over 50,000 people a year.

Edwin J Bernard, editor of HIV Treatment Update, said: "It is remarkably significant that someone who has worked so hard in the HIV sector has finally been recognised.

"After 25 years of the Terrence Higgins Trust it is about time.

"Much of the media focus has been on the international Aids problem. I hope this shines the spotlight on HIV/Aids in the UK."

There are now three times as many people living with HIV as there were 10 years ago and the numbers will continue to climb.

FULL HONOURS LIST

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Professor Mark Walport was appointed as director of the Wellcome Trust in June 2003. He heads one of the world's largest biomedical research charities, which spends some 400 million a year in pursuit of its mission to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health.

Before joining the trust, he was Professor of Medicine and Head of the Division of Medicine at Imperial College, London where he led a research team that focused on the immunology and genetics of rheumatic diseases.



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