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Goodbye, Bill

During the holiday break, Queensland Positive People lost its longest-serving board member — Bill Chappelle, who passed away in Cairns on Christmas Eve. A celebration of his life was held with family and friends at the weekend.

Bill’s amazing and hugely admirable contributions to the sector over many years — to QPP and the National Association of People with HIV Australia in particular — have been incredibly generous, tireless, and undeniably impressive. 

In response to the sad news, QPP Executive Officer Simon O’Connor said: “Bill loved working with all of us and he was so very proud of QPP’s significant achievements as the independent, innovative and well-respected PLHIV organisation we have grown into since our very humble beginnings as a program of QuAC. QPP is now a proudly self-determining organisation that Bill was so unwaveringly dedicated to, and instrumental in building.” 

With regards to Bill’s involvement with the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), its executive officer, Aaron Cogle, said: “Bill made extraordinary contributions to NAPWHA. He helped us craft an Australian HIV response that was more relevant, more acceptable and more effective for HIV-positive Australians. He will be sorely missed.”

Bill, a long-term survivor who had lived with HIV for three decades, was open about his advocacy — and his status. “I tell everyone I meet I’m HIV-positive,” he told the Cairns Post in 2014. Bill strongly believed that, by normalising HIV, you helped the wider community accept and understand it. “I think it’s often how you perceive yourself as to how people react to the fact you’re HIV-positive,” he said. “I’m very confident about it.”

Bill will be remembered as a caring, passionate and unapologetic advocate for all people living with HIV. People who knew him well, know that he would not want anyone to be maudlin about his passing. “Bill simply would expect everybody to boldly forge ahead and keep up the good fight on his behalf,” said O’Connor. “We will do him great honour if we do just that.” 

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