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Ron Rosenes Appointed to the Order of Canada

Ron Rosenes Appointed to the Order of Canada

july 15, 2014

We are so proud that our very own Ron Rosenes, long-time HIV activist and advocate, is among 86 new appointments to the Order of Canada.  He will be receiving this pretigious award for "...improving access to health care and social justice resources for people living with HIV and AIDS through his advocacy, fundraising and community leadership".  A long-term survivor living with HIV, Ron, a Toronto resident, has worked extensively over the last 25 years in fundraising, community development and on several boards, and has even worked as one of the founding board members of the Canadian Treatment Action Council.  Currently, Ron is focused on the underlying social and economic factors that put individuals at risk of contracting HIV/ AIDS through his consulting firm. He's hoping the award will allow him to connect with broader audiences.

CTAC: Congratulations! You are a recipient of the Order of Canada!  How do you feel?  When did you first get the news?

Ron Rosenes: I got a call from Rideau Hall in the middle of June telling me that I had been selected to become a Member of the Order of Canada.  This was accompanied by a strict warning not to tell anyone other than my significant other until the news was made public on Canada Day.  My birthday is mid July so this has proved to be an extraordinary gift. At the same time, it is a bit disconcerting to be singled out when we do our work in HIV as part of a grand collective.  I share it with fellow activists from whom I learned a great deal: Louise Binder, James Kreppner, Maggie Atkinson and Phil Lundrigan for example.

CTAC: You are one of the founding members of the Canadian Treatment Action Council.  How do you think that the organization has grown?  Where do you think it should go in the future?

RR: I retired reluctantly after 14 years at the helm with Louise when I became a senior citizen and decided to go back to work as a consultant.  We mentored some great PHA activists on our Board, people like Doris Peltier, Colleen Price, Richard Baker and Mark Randall who now speak in their own authentic voices. For me, the breadth and depth of the lived experience our members bring is a tribute to how the organization has grown. While CTAC now has a more traditional structure, I hope this will not be lost.

CTAC: What in your thoughts is the current state of access to treatment for Canadians living with HIV, HCV or coinfection? 

RR: There may be less urgency regarding access to treatment now that we have some 30 medications to treat HIV but there are new challenges arising around co-infection with hepatitis C and expensive new treatments in the pipeline.  The demand for HCV treatment on the health care system will be huge. In terms of future directions, we still need universal drug coverage and to ensure equality of access in a country with many regional differences and disparities.  CTAC should continue to play a role in ensuring both the fairness and the sustainability of the health care system. Basically, prescribed medications need to truly come under the umbrella of universal health care.

CTAC: What do you think are the most important factors that will make an organization like CTAC a success within the sector of treatment access?

RR: Partnerships, collaboration and coalition building are terms that come to mind. Working more closely with our national partner organizations, and other sectors including disease groups, and those working in housing and poverty – the social determinants of health.

CTAC: What words of advice would you give to other advocates in the HIV/HCV sector?

RR: We will not solve HIV, let alone link people to high quality care, unless we work together with those who seek to reduce inequalities to access by reducing social and economic barriers. 


Read the official Governor General Order of Canada appointments press release here.

Read the July 1st, 2014 Toronto Sun article here.


Watch Ron Rosenes Carlton University 2012 Convocation speech below: