In Memoriam, Don Liriope

In Memoriam, Don Liriope

HIV Australia | Vol. 12 No. 2 | July 2014

By John Rule

Don Liriope died in Port Moresby General Hospital on 18 March 2014, due to tuberculosis of the liver.

Don had lived openly as an HIV-positive person for many years. Don was a passionate advocate for the rights of people living with HIV, gay men, men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender people in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Don was employed by Igat Hope, PNG’s national organisation representing people living with HIV, as the Stigma and Discrimination Project Officer.

He was also a founding member and Vice President of Kapul Champions, a community-based organisation established by MSM and transgender people in PNG to represent community interests and contribute to PNG’s national HIV response.

Don’s colleagues loved working with him. He was energetic, passionate and he was able to stand up for what he believed in and was always keen to communicate to others what he felt was right.

Don spoke very clearly about the rights of communities to participate in research and he understood the benefits that research would bring in helping to manage the HIV epidemic in PNG. He understood that people living with HIV needed respect and dignity.

He wanted the voices heard. He was not afraid – he would speak directly and convincingly to everyone about his concerns.

This meant that Don was known to many people in PNG beyond the HIV sector, and to people in other Pacific Island countries and territories, and in Australia for his advocacy efforts on behalf of people living with HIV.

Don had a great sense of humour, was fun to be with and was able to relate to people of many different levels. Don was savvy. His death is a great loss. We will all miss him.

By John Rule