THE HIV Foundation Queensland has appointed a new chief executive and a new Indigenous HIV awareness and prevention officer.

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Successful business manager and operator Tony Majer (pictured) was named as the organisation’s new interim chief this week while community health worker Nathan Tighe was appointed to the Indigenous HIV awareness and prevention position.

Hoping to further build and establish the organisation that was established last year, HIV Foundation chairman Dr Darren Russell said that he was looking forward to working with Majer and utilising his business experience to achieve their goal to end HIV.

“This appointment means the foundation can really get down to business to deliver prevention and awareness strategies and to promote the growth of HIV-related research,” Dr Russell said.

“Mr Majer’s extensive experience in the business world will be an incredible asset for the Foundation moving forward.”

Dr Russell said that Majer’s business experience was a key factor in the organisation’s decision to appoint him as chief executive.

“The focus of Mr Majer’s role will be to oversee the Foundation’s operations and provide strategic leadership and business planning,” he said.

Addressing questions over why someone who admits to having no prior experience or involvement with HIV awareness and health promotion was chosen for the role, Dr Russell said that they were specifically looking for someone with explicit business experience.

“What we wanted in an interim (chief executive) for the HIV Foundation Queensland was someone who could get us set up and running and on a sound footing,” Dr Russell told the Star Observer.

“There are a large number of things that need to be done to establish a foundation, and to be honest, HIV knowledge is not something we were looking for.

“We have a board with immense experience and skills in HIV, health promotion, knowledge of the gay community, etc, and what we need is a (chief executive) who can translate board decisions into action — we think that Tony is perfect for the job.”

Peers in the field of Indigenous sexual health have welcomed news of the appointment of a new Indigenous community health worker and the additional focus given to the issue. The new position will also be facilitated by Queensland Positive People.

Tighe was chosen to become the organisation’s first Indigenous health worker due to his experience with affected communities and expertise.

Dr Russell said that appointing community-based health workers was a key to understanding the specific barriers that can get in the way of providing vital HIV health awareness to Indigenous communities.

“The officer will provide culturally appropriate support and education and will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV to access treatment and support through existing services,” he said.

“We are always trying to gain a thorough understanding of the barriers preventing early treatment uptake so we can overcome those to encourage (people living with HIV) to seek treatment early.

“The foundation is determined to help drive the rate of new HIV infections down and education and prevention is paramount to achieving this.”

(Photo: health.qld.gov.au)

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