Marcel, who died aged 46 on September 21 2011, led the HIV pressure group the World AIDS Campaign (WAC) from 2004. He fostered WAC’s growth from a one-man operation under the wing of UNAIDS to a small but vital international agency, whose projects range from grassroots schemes in Africa to global events like World AIDS Day. The interests of people living with HIV and those most affected by the epidemic were always at the forefront of his actions.
After hearing the sad news Alvaro Bermejo, Executive Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance had this to say: “Leaders in many parts of the world are good at making commitments to fight HIV and AIDS but lack accountability to follow up on promises."
He went of to say “the Alliance worked closely with Marcel and WAC for many years. Marcel's concepts of leadership and leaders' accountability to communities were inspirational. Many World AIDS Day themes, for example ‘taking the lead’ (2007) or the more recent ‘keep the promise’, had his vision all over them. He was also great supporter of community voices and of the Key Correspondents concept. He leaves a big void that must make us reflect on whether (or not) we are exercising the right type of leadership.”
Marcel worked for almost 10 years with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) where, as Operational Director and Steering Committee Member of the international MSF Campaign “Access to Essential Medicines”, he fought tirelessly to bring the needs of people living with HIV to the forefront of MSF's agenda. Marcel always had huge energy and was at the leading edge of pilot programs on HIV and AIDS programmes as well as TB. He was also responsible for the founding of AIDS Foundation East West.
Marcel Van Soest will be greatly missed by hundreds of friends and colleagues, including those at the Alliance, all moved by his incredible commitment and desire for a world where people do not die of AIDS related diseases.
He is survived by his mother, his partner, his sister and his son.
Read more about Marcel’s life and work on the World AIDS Campaign website.