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AccolAIDS winners

Several gay activists were honoured this month for their dedication to BC’s HIV/AIDS movement at the seventh annual AccolAIDS gala hosted by the BC Persons with AIDS Society (BCPWA).

Ken Coolen was among the nine award recipients. Honored with the philanthropy award, Coolen says providing community support is an intrinsic part of his nature.

“People often say we should make a change, but I dive headfirst into projects. I say, ‘If it’s not me, then who? If it’s not now, when?'”

Coolen, who is also treasurer of the Vancouver Pride Society, says extensive support from his family, community and colleagues has helped him reach his goals.

The Community Based Research Centre (CBRC) was also acknowledged for its innovative approach to research and gathering sexual health information in the gay community.

The CBRC has been conducting the annual Sex Now Survey to gauge sexual health and trends among gay and bisexual men since 2002. This year’s findings indicate a sharp increase in risky sexual behaviour in gay men 30 years and younger.

“We recognized in the late ’90s that nobody was doing this type of research and checking in with gay people to find out how they were doing,” says CBRC director Rick Marchand.

“There is a perception in the bureaucracy that we [gay men] have all the support we need. [Heterosexuals] often don’t think about the kind of supports needed.”

“Virtually all our friends are dead,” adds CBRC research director Terry Trussler. “We’re [doing research] to prevent another crisis from happening.”