Laurel Sprague, Phd, has been appointed the executive director of the Global Network of People Living with HIV, according to a GNP+ statement. She will take over the role at the beginning of May.

A human rights and social justice advocate, Sprague was diagnosed with the virus in 1991. Recently, she was working with the HIV Justice Network (HJN), which monitors HIV criminalization laws and their effects; she was the network’s global research fellow on HIV, gender and justice. She has also served on the NGO delegation to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board. She holds a PhD in political science and has been an honors college senior lecturer and adjunct faculty member at Wayne State University and Eastern Michigan University.

“I am deeply honored to serve our global movement of people living with HIV as the newest executive director,” Sprague said in the press release. “GNP+ has played a critical role in my own development and my recognition of the solidarity and the courage expressed worldwide by people living with HIV, our networks of key population groups, and those who love and support us. We have hard work ahead of us. While many people with HIV are now enjoying strong, healthy, full lives; urgency and collaboration are needed to ensure dignity, decency, and survival for the many more people living with HIV and key populations still struggling.”

“For the past year, Laurel has been integral to the growth of both [HJN] and the broader HIV Justice Worldwide movement, ensuring that the voices of those most impacted by HIV criminalization are heard, and listened to, by those in positions of power,” said HJN’s global coordinator, Edwin J Bernard, in a separate HJN press release. “I don’t think of this welcome move as HJN’s loss: GNP+’s gain is also HJN’s gain. For many years, HJN and GNP+ have been close allies, and Laurel’s appointment simply means that we will work even closer together toward our common aim—ending all punitive laws and policies aimed at people with HIV based on our HIV-positive status.”