06 Dec 2019News
HIV-positive survivor and advocate transforms pain into purpose
HIV-positive survivor and advocate David Polson.
David Polson was among the first 400 Australian men diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in 1984. At the time, the little-understood virus gave diagnosed people a life expectancy of under ten years and there was an intense stigma against those with HIV and the LGBTI community.
Since his diagnosis and under the care of late Professor David Cooper, Mr Polson has participated in 28 drug trials to help the medical community better understand and improve the treatment of HIV. This commitment to finding a treatment and to his community is unique and admirable.
As a speaker with lived experience, Mr Polson shares his journey at a wide range of national public engagements and forums.
In celebration of World AIDS Day on Friday, December 1, Mr Polson delivered the keynote address for the St Vincent’s Curran Foundation’s event at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.
St Vincent’s Curran Foundation’s CEO Shanthini Naidoo said Mr Polson had become one of the greatest supporters and tireless advocates for the Foundation’s HIV Future Fund.
“David is the ‘face’ of our fundraising campaign to raise $1 million to support HIV research and treatment at St Vincent’s, including care for those most vulnerable people who have nowhere else to go,” Ms Naidoo said.
“He is a wonderfully engaging speaker who can connect with an audience and include them in his journey.”
Mr Polson has featured in several international HIV campaigns, books and documentaries. Currently, he’s writing a memoir that documents his personal experience in a time when Australia, despite a culture of discrimination and stigma, responded to a pandemic and became a global leader in the development of HIV treatment.
With the recent support of Settlement Services International (SSI)’s IgniteAbility® initiative, Mr Polson is reducing the ongoing stigma of HIV by sharing with new audiences his personal story of resilience, hope and courage.
IgniteAbility® is a pilot program established by SSI to facilitate business creation for people with a disability who want to establish a small business or expand an existing one. The program has supported Mr Polson by positioning him as a thought leader with a brand and legacy, paired with an integrated marketing and digital strategy.
“Setting up my website and business cards has helped my professional image enormously,” Mr Polson said.
Mr Polson said that he found the enthusiasm, dedication and depth of knowledge of IgniteAbility® most rewarding.
“IgniteAbility is a fantastic concept with fantastic people helping people with disabilities turn their lives around.”
Mr Polson’s mission for his advocacy work is to continue promoting a healthy and positive life for those living with HIV to new and international audiences.