Chris Beyrer MD, MPH
Desmond M. Tutu Professor in Public Health and Human Rights
Professor of Epidemiology, Nursing and Medicine
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
We have known for decades now in the HIV response that science is essential to making progress on HIV—but that without community to access, own, advocate, inform and galvanize, our best tools my go unused. We also know that the hard fought gains in LGBTQ+ rights and dignity have been led by community. These are the people who take the greatest risks for our gains, often with the fewest resources, and always with the wants and needs of our queer brothers and sisters front and center. That is why I’m so proud of being associated with APCOM and its tremendous work on both HIV and LGBTQ+ rights. While so many of our battles and our victories come at national level, we also know that regional partnerships and advocacy are critical, and that has never been more clear than in the time of the HIV and now the COVID-19 pandemics. Regional networks like APCOM really show that we are stronger together, and that advances in the Asia-Pacific countries have so often come through regional efforts. APCOM has been so effective in this kind of regional capacity building, in creating and supporting solidarity, and in bringing queer voices and presence into the regional conversations on health, rights, and support for inclusive human dignity and human flourishing. One of those leading voices has been the Executive Director of APCOM, Khun Midnight, and we also celebrate his 10 years of visionary and compassionate leadership. Midnight has maintained a remarkable balance of clarity, courage, and diplomacy which has made him a trusted leader and partner across the region. Under his leadership, APCOM has earned and deserves all of our support for the likely long battles ahead to achieve an end to AIDS, to COVID, and to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity across the Asia-Pacific.