ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his significant service to community health and people living with HIV.
In a career spanning more than three decades, Parkhill has been a staunch advocate for the wellbeing of people in the HIV-positive and LGBTIQA+ communities.
Since becoming the CEO of ACON in 2009, he has presided over key milestones that have contributed to significant declines in new HIV notifications in New South Wales.
These have included the establishment of Australia’s first community-based rapid HIV testing service and the development of the award-winning and internationally recognised Ending HIV education framework.
In partnership with other stakeholders, Parkhill has also been instrumental in the rollout and widespread adoption of the HIV prevention medication PrEP, as well as efforts to get more people living with HIV to initiate treatment earlier to improve their health.
Parkhill has led the expansion of ACON’s work into new areas, such as social inclusion initiatives, cancer screening and prevention, and implementing a greater focus on the health of women, culturally and linguistically diverse people, and trans and gender diverse communities.
Parkhill said that he was “deeply humbled” by the national honour.
“Working to end HIV transmissions and improve health outcomes for HIV-positive and [LGBTIQA+] people has been a great passion and privilege,” he said.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to do this work alongside some extraordinary mentors, colleagues, and volunteers, and this honour is a reflection on their tenacity, spirit, sense of community, expertise, and sense of purpose and justice.
“I am incredibly grateful to them all, and for our work to be recognised in such a way.”
ACON President Dr Justin Koonin said that the organisation commended Parkhill on the “well-deserved recognition”.
“His community leadership has been an extremely important factor in driving HIV transmission rates in NSW down to the lowest levels seen since records began in 1985 and have helped make NSW a global leader in efforts to end HIV transmission,” said Koonin.
“Nicolas’ dedicated service over many years, utilising his skills in leadership, governance, and policy, along with his long-standing passion and commitment to improving health outcomes, is an inspiration to many in the HIV sector and wider [LGBTIQA+] communities.”
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) President Mark Orr AM congratulated Parkhill and thanked him for his continuing service to HIV and LGBTIQA+ health.
“The diverse communities ACON and AFAO serve and support are stronger and more resilient thanks to the tireless efforts of people like Nicolas,” said Orr.