In memory: Elias Phiri – community HIV and TB advocate

Elias Phiri, community heath activist and friend.

Memory Sachikonye, HIV i-Base

On 27 January 2021, Elias Phiri, a long-standing and much loved community health activist died from COVID-19 after spending almost four weeks in intensive care.

Elias was one of the leading advocates to improve and develop HIV and TB awareness, especially to enable better care for African people living in the UK and Europe. He had an amazing enthusiasm and energy that also made sure that activism celebrated life.

I first met Elias about 15 years ago on a media training course at THT. We then met again when I started working for the UK-CAB in 2008. He was very supportive and always encouraged other HIV advocates – mainly African – to join the UK-CAB. Elias was a dedicated to advocate for HIV and TB causes.

Elias also joined the European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG) when I was co-chair of the membership workgroup.  We attended several EATG meetings together and his enthusiasm to support other new members was great. Elias was an inclusive, proactive and effective community leader. He was instrumental in supporting new UK and EU members who joined EATG. He also supported many projects in the Black HIV communities in UK and abroad to include diverse communities.

Hope Mhereza, an i-Base Trustee who knew Elias for many years said:

Elias dedicated his life to advocating and campaigning for access to HIV treatments and access to accurate information. His reputation preceded him: a professional that is compassionate, dedicated, a community campaigner and a pillar of his community. His legacy is testament to his exceptional human qualities. He surely will be missed and is a great loss to the HIV community… One thing that stood out from the hundreds of tributes online is that Elias was “an exceptional leader with a heart for community”.  

I know I will remember Elias as friend, brother and a great advocate. He touched many lives and his memory and fighting spirit will always live with us.  May his family and friends find comfort and remember all his work.

Rest in eternal peace Elias.

 Memory Sachikonye, HIV i-Base

This article was first published on 19 February 2021.

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