Aids activist Prof Jimmie Earl Perry of the African Centre for HIV/AIDS Management at Stellenbosch University has died of cancer.
Prof Perry was also the first UNAIDS National Goodwill Ambassador for South Africa. The following tribute has been published by UNAIDS (http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2018/january/20180112_jimmie_earl_perry):
A seasoned singer and performer in theatre productions around the world, Mr Perry was notable for his work in using the creative arts to educate audiences. At the Africa Centre of HIV/AIDS Management at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, he staged HIV educational theatre productions that were performed to more than 3 million people in communities and workplaces nationally and internationally.
At the time of his appointment as UNAIDS National Goodwill Ambassador, Mr Perry said, “If we are to turn this epidemic around, South Africans have to really understand what the virus is, how it is spread, that it is not a death sentence thanks to medical treatment and to put an end to the fear and stigma of living with HIV."
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director, said Mr Perry's appointment in 2009 came at a critical time for the AIDS response in South Africa, with far-reaching policy changes announced by the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, on World AIDS Day of that year. “I decided to appoint Jimmie Earl Perry as National Goodwill Ambassador because of his capacity to inspire and his willingness to lead and empower others. He had a strong belief in the potential of people to rise above their circumstances and he encouraged the best in everybody he met."
Mr Sidibé said Mr Perry's passing was a great loss for the AIDS community. “Jimmie Earl Perry encouraged and inspired my global advocacy and efforts to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. UNAIDS benefited a great deal from our association with Mr Perry, and we are grateful for his service and dedication. I am humbled and privileged to have counted him as my friend and brother," he said.
- Prof Johan Malan, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences said Prof Perry had played a pivotal role in the Faculty, the University and the community. "He will be greatly missed. Our sincere condolences go to his loved ones."