Longtime HIV/AIDS Activist Kevin Sullivan Dies
Served as Executive Director of Ohio AIDS Coalition for 10 Years
Columbus, OH— Kevin Sullivan, longtime HIV/AIDS activist, advocate and Executive Director of the Ohio AIDS Coalition, died September 5. He was five days short of his 61st birthday.
"This is sad news, and a deep loss to our community and our work," said Bill Hardy, CEO of AIDS Resource Center Ohio. "For the past decade Kevin has been front-and-center in our public policy and advocacy efforts in Ohio and nationwide," Hardy continued.
Sullivan served as executive director of the Ohio AIDS Coalition, a statewide membership organization providing education, leadership training, advocacy, and support for Ohio's HIV/AIDS community, for ten years. OAC members include people living with HIV/AIDS, their loved ones, service providers, and other persons affected by the epidemic. The organization is viewed as a statewide leader in advocacy and promotion of high-quality services.
Sullivan was among the Ohio AIDS service organization leaders who work with members of the U.S. Congress, state representatives, and others to advocate for funding for services-including the federal Ryan White Program that helps provide access to treatment-for HIV-positive individuals. He also participated in ongoing efforts to direct state and county HIV testing and prevention funding to populations most impacted by HIV/AIDS. At the national level, he served on the board of the National Association for People with AIDS, and was frequently invited as an expert participant in a range of other national planning and strategy forums.
Sullivan's leadership is widely recognized. "Kevin worked every day to advocate for the best care for Ohioans living with HIV. He moved us forward-sometimes in strides and sometimes in baby steps, but always forward," said Jane Russell, RN, BSN, ACRN, director of the Ohio State Local Performance Site of the Pennsylvania/MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center in Columbus.
He also understood the increasing challenges-especially for funding-facing HIV/AIDS services. As a result, in August, AIDS Resource Center Ohio and OAC announced their intent to merge, a decision unanimously supported by Sullivan and the boards of both organizations. OAC's programs and services will continue under the umbrella of ARC Ohio, which will provide administrative and program support. With offices throughout the state, ARC Ohio is the state's largest HIV/AIDS service organization. Earlier this summer, ARC Ohio merged with the Columbus AIDS Task Force, a move also intended to strengthen long-term sustainability and enhance services.
"We've been discussing this possibility for some time now, and we're delighted with the outcome: it safeguards the continued advocacy and education that OAC provides for Ohio's consumers, and will mobilize an even stronger advocacy and public policy voice" said Pam Gibbs, a resident of Canton who chaired the Ohio AIDS Coalition board. "Kevin's devotion, impact, leadership, and especially his passion will be missed. One of his distinctions was that he fought to reduce resource disparities within the state. We are grateful that we have taken the steps to ensure his continuing legacy and the work of OAC," she added.
"Kevin lived with HIV for some 25 years, and often said that, as a long-term survivor, he 'beat the odds' in many ways," recalls Hardy. "Nonetheless, his declining health over the past year and his death are poignant and painful reminders that, in spite of all our advances and even with the best possible treatment, there is still no cure for AIDS and the disease continues to take from us dear loved ones."
Friends may call from 5-7 P.M. on September 9th in the Conroy Funeral Home, 1660 E. High Street, Springfield, Ohio. The funeral mass will be held at 10 A.M. on September 10th in St. Teresa Church, 1827 N. Limestone Street, Springfield.
A special fund has been set up to honor Sullivan's legacy and sustain advocacy and other programs of OAC. Tax-deductible donations for these purposes can be made at http://www.arcohio.org/giftoflife. Memorial donations may also be made to Catholic Central High School Foundation or Community Mercy Hospice