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Last year, launched a massive search. We asked the more than 600,000 people who visit each month to nominate HIV healthcare workers and inspiring HIV-positive people who have made a difference in their lives. We also encouraged healthcare workers themselves to nominate the outstanding colleagues with whom they work every day.

We received nominations from every state in the union. The notes that accompanied these nominations blew us away; they serve as a testament to the number of terrific HIV care providers, prevention workers and AIDS advocates there are in the United States.

As much as we in the HIV community like to complain (and justifiably so) about what's wrong with HIV care today -- the lack of resources (particularly for the disadvantaged), the crushing workload, the bureaucracy, the chilly political climate -- these nominations kindle hope that there is plenty going right in this country. The many grateful men and women who sent in nominations were effusive in their gratitude and described their care providers glowingly.

This is why's HIV Leadership Awards were created -- why they had to be created. We so easily forget how many dedicated people are working on the front lines of the fight against HIV in the United States. How do you express your gratitude when someone goes the extra mile to keep you healthy, or when you can go to sleep at night knowing you have somebody you can call for support? An award such as ours can only barely do justice to that kind of self-sacrifice.

It was not easy for our judges to select winners for these awards. They deserve their own round of applause. For a little on how the judging process went, see our column below.

Of course, you may be asking yourself: Why has chosen to begin offering these awards now? The answer to that question lies 10 years in the past, when the HIV epidemic was a very different beast than it is today. Read more >>

How Winners Were Chosen

Panels of distinguished professionals judged each of our award categories. Click here for a complete list of our judges. For each award category, the same basic guidelines were followed in the selection of winners.

Nominations: Nominations were solicited through online promotions on, notifications to subscribers of's weekly e-mail newsletter and notifications to subscribers of's biweekly fax and e-mail newsletters. Nominations were permitted largely without restrictions, with three exceptions: A nominator could only nominate a specific person once; the nominated person must live and work within the United States, with a focus on the epidemic within the United States as well; and no judge could be nominated. Nominations were accepted from May through November 2004.

Candidates' information: Once we received a nomination, the nominee was notified and sent a candidate's form requesting a wide array of personal and professional information. Each candidate was also asked to supply a complete resume and curriculum vitae. Candidates were also asked to write short essays explaining their thoughts on a particular aspect of their work, as well as to describe the qualities they felt best embodied a leader in the field of HIV. For a candidate to be considered by our judges, the information must have been received by a stated deadline.

Judging: When all candidates' materials were received, they were distributed to our judging panels for review and winner selection. While the quality of care or advocacy provided by the candidate was of paramount importance, and the depth of knowledge and experience of each candidate was a key consideration, judges were also encouraged to look "beyond the numbers" to select a group of winners that reflected the true diversity of frontline HIV leaders in each category. Special consideration was given to geography, gender, ethnicity, target population and other variables pertinent to the specific category being judged. Our outstanding panels of highly respected judges conducted their work independently and without remuneration. We are grateful to each of them for the tremendous amount of time and thought they placed into selecting only the most outstanding candidates from each category to win one of's HIV Leadership Awards.