Kenyan lawyer, Mr. Allan Maleche was on Monday awarded the 2018 Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award. The pro bono lawyer bagged the award in recognition for his role in advancing human rights in the HIV/AIDS field.

The advocate received this award during the opening of the 22nd International Aids Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Receiving the award, Maleche said that this recognition will push him to keep fighting for the rights of those affected by HIV and TB.

“This award recognises how critical rights-based approaches are to the HIV and TB responses. It is a wonderful honour that will inspire me and my colleagues in our continued work to protect the human rights of everyone affected by these epidemics,” he said.

Maleche is the first executive director of the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN). Through this organization he has been able to advocate for the rights of people affected by HIV and tuberculosis.

Under his leadership, the organization has won landmark cases such as halting the forced sterilisation of women living with HIV. Maleche however said that his work was far from done.

“Despite the successes we have had, there are still many human rights issues we need to address. Roughly, the same number of people died of Aids last year as the year before. This is unacceptable given the life-saving ARVs [antiretroviral] that we have. Globally, 40 percent of people who need ARVs do not have access to them.” He said.

The Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award is given to individuals who have shown great effort in advocating for human rights in the HIV field. The award is biannual and it came to  effect in 2012.

Mr. Allan Maleche is the first Kenyan to receive the award. In 2012 Iranian physicians Arash and Kamiar Alaei won the award. Then in 2014 Ugandan Physician and gay rights activist Paul Semugoma and Zimbabwean human rights advocate Martha Tholanah took the award.