David Polson

HIV Survivor, Keynote Speaker on Resilience and founding Chair of QTOPIA

David Polson was one of the first 400 Australian men to be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. That was back in 1984, and he immediately told himself the disease would not kill him.

At that time, David was advised by his doctors to tell only three people about the diagnosis because of the hatred, discrimination and stigma surrounding HIV/Aids. However, as he watched others with the disease die, he decided that to stop the stigma, he needed to introduce HIV Aids into the broader conversation… the more you talk about it, the less stigmatised you will become. As a result, David is a keynote speaker who talks to audiences around the country about living positively with HIV, HIV testing, and confronting stigma.

David is a co-founder and the first Chair of QTOPIA, Sydney. A place for Memory, Education and Celebration of Queer lives. The founding Co-Patrons of QTOPIA are Ita Buttrose and Michael Kirby.

More about David Polson:

David Polson has survived a long battle with HIV/AIDS, and in the process, he has volunteered to participate in many clinical trials – the essential key for medicine to understand which treatments work best in which circumstance. Under the care of the late Professor David Cooper, he undertook 28 HIV drug trials, all of which had significant and impactful side effects.

David’s ability to persevere through the trials is a testament to his innate resilience and his dedication to helping medical science find a treatment or cure. He has effectively put his body on the line, motivated half by the hope that he will benefit from new drugs, and half by the hope that his participation will help the community and medical science, even if it doesn’t help him.

The clinical trials David has volunteered for over 25 years have led directly to the development of combination therapy, one of the miracles of modern medicine now responsible for saving literally millions of lives around the world.

David’s acronym for life is H.O.P.E., which stands for Humour, Optimism, Perseverance, and Energy. And this is what he aims to deliver to others. After the death of Prof. David Cooper, David decided to become an HIV advocate and educator. For over 20 years, he has been an inspirational speaker, empowered by the aim to reduce the ongoing stigma of HIV/Aids. By educating and sharing his personal story of resilience, hope, and courage, he hopes to dispel myths surrounding HIV/Aids, promote a healthy and positive life while living with HIV, and replace people’s fear and ignorance with understanding and acceptance.

As well as an inspirational speaker, David is an Ambassador for the St Vincent’s Curran Foundation, which aims to provide everyone with access to excellent healthcare.

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