18 May 2006 Mary Davis Fisher, a prominent US-based writer, artist and motivational speaker who travels around the world advocating for those who share her HIV-positive status, has been appointed as Special Representative for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
“For more than a decade and a half, Mary has been an eloquent voice for compassion and action,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot in a statement today. “I am confident that the warmth, talent and presence she brings will help UNAIDS send a powerful message that can open hearts, minds and doors of opportunity throughout the world.”
About a year after she was diagnosed as HIV positive, Ms. Fisher delivered a landmark speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, moving the audience in the hall and millions more around the world with her call for action against AIDS. Since then she has been internationally recognized as a chronicler of the global AIDS epidemic.
“UNAIDS has worked tirelessly to help every pilgrim on the road to AIDS – and we with AIDS, around the world, are in the debt,” said Ms. Fisher in accepting her appointment as UNAIDS special envoy. “There is so much more to do – and thanks to medical sciences, there is so much more we can do to prevent babies and young people from becoming HIV positive.”
Currently, nearly 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, according to UNAIDS, which estimates that every minute a child either dies of an AIDS-related illness or becomes infected with HIV.
A former White House assistant and television producer, Ms. Fisher recently returned from a UNAIDS fact-finding trip to Zambia, where she focused on the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.
In 1992, Ms. Fisher founded the Family AIDS Network, which she closed down in 2000 in order to establish The Mary Fisher CARE (Clinical AIDS Research and Education) Fund. Based at the University of Alabama at Bingham, the Care Fund supports long-term, practical research to help people living with HIV, especially women, both in the United States and Africa.
Ms. Fisher, who has authored five books, is also an active member of the leadership Council of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS.