Anna Forbes, a long-time microbicide advocate, has received the third Omololu Falobi Award for Excellence in HIV Prevention Research Community Advocacy. The award was presented during the Microbicides 2012 Conference in Sydney, Australia.
Forbes was honored for her significant contributions to microbicides advocacy over a long career devoted to fostering civil society engagement in HIV care, treatment and prevention and women’s rights. She has been involved in the fight against AIDS for almost three decades and was an early champion for microbicides when the field had few strong advocacy voices.
Forbes’s work for more than a decade as deputy director of the Global Campaign for Microbicides (GCM) helped build awareness of the need for microbicides as a prevention option that could be controlled by women. She was also instrumental in the founding of the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA). She continues to advocate for microbicides and other prevention options for women as an independent consultant with multiple organizations working with a special focus on engaging with sex work organizations across the world. Forbes is based in Washington, DC.
“I am honored to receive this award from my peers and proud to be receiving it here at the Microbicides 2012 conference where we have heard good news about the science, policy and advocacy that is moving us closer to new prevention options for women and for men,” Forbes said. “There have been times over the past several years when finding a safe and effective microbicide and other woman-controlled options for HIV prevention seemed like a distant dream, but today we are much closer to making it a reality. As Omololu said, the challenge of our time is HIV/AIDS. Receiving this award his name gives me renewed hope to meet that challenge.”
The Omololu Falobi Award highlights the essential role of community advocacy and leadership in HIV prevention research. It celebrates the life and values of the late Omololu Falobi, a long-time HIV advocate and journalist who founded Journalists Against AIDS in Nigeria, was an instrumental pioneer member of the Nigerian Treatment Access Movement, and co-founded the New HIV Vaccine & Microbicide Advocacy Society. Omololu was killed in Lagos, Nigeria in October 2006. The award was conceived as an ongoing legacy that recognizes his commitment and lasting contributions to HIV prevention research advocacy.
“Omololu was a visionary leader and activist, who accomplished much in his too short a life. He dedicated himself to powerful advocacy for HIV and HIV prevention research in Nigeria, Africa and worldwide,” said Morenike Ukpong of NHVMAS in Nigeria. “It is gratifying to see his ideals and vision live on through this award. I know he would be immensely proud of the work that Anna and the past recipients are doing to simultaneously advance human rights and HIV prevention research.”
Forbes was chosen from among an impressive group of nominees by an independent international panel of HIV prevention research advocates, policy makers, and scientists.
“Anna clearly has created, and continues to create, a fine and necessary inheritance for advocates working for microbicide and other HIV prevention options for women, said Polly Harrison, founder of the Alliance for Microbicide Development and chair of the selection committee. The times and circumstances in which Anna worked and continues to work, have certainly had their challenges. Yet she never seems to despair and she always tells the truth, especially truth to power. What more could one ask? We all look forward to continuing to hear Anna’s voice in this field.”
The 2012 Omololu Falobi Award Recipient was honored during the plenary session today with a plaque and a cash prize. The M2012 Secretariat also provided a full scholarship for the Award recipient to attend the Conference in Sydney.
The Omololu Falobi Award For Excellence In HIV Prevention Research Community Advocacy was conceptualised and the process coordinated by the African Microbicides Advocacy Group (AMAG) in partnership with AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention Research, the Global Campaign for Microbicides (GCM), Journalists Against AIDS in Nigeria (JAAIDS), the New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society (NHVMAS), and the Treatment Action Movement Nigeria (TAM). Joining the coordinating committee this year are the International Rectal Microbicides Advocates (IRMA) and the African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP).
The award honors Omololu Falobi, a visionary leader who continues to inspire many people and projects. He was a leading HIV/AIDS activist, an advocate for prevention research, and an exceptional journalist. Omololu made enormous impact in Nigeria and beyond – he nurtured and/or led campaigns related to prevention, treatment and research; won multiple awards nationally and internationally; and earned a tremendous reputation from all who had the privilege to work with him. He established the Journalists Against AIDS in Nigeria (JAAIDS), co-created the Nigeria-AIDS eForum, co-founded the New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society of Nigeria (NHVMAS), was an instrumental pioneer member of the Treatment Access Movement (TAM) Nigeria and a key leader of the African Civil Society Coalition on HIV and AIDS.
Financial support for the Award since 2008 comes from AMAG, AVAC, GCM, Family Health International, NHVMAS, the Open Society Institute in South Africa and UNAIDS. The Award also receives support from the M2012 Conference in the scholarship afforded to the Award recipient.