Dr Rupert Whitaker, co-founder of the Terrence Higgins Trust – Europe’s first and now leading HIV-charity - has been made an Honorary Doctor of Science at Royal Holloway, University of London, for being a tenacious advocate for people with HIV and other chronic conditions.
Dr Rupert Whitaker
Dr Whitaker received a BSc from Bedford College in 1984, in Psychology and a PhD in both Social and Neural Psychiatry and Viral Neuralimmunology from Boston University, USA, in 1990.
Honorary Degrees of the University of London are conferred to people who are outstanding in their field or who have given exceptional service to the university.
The conferral was held at the university’s campus in Egham, Surrey, during a meeting with Principal, Professor Paul Layzell. Rupert’s oration was given by Professor Polly Dalton, Head of the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway.
The Terrence Higgins Trust was founded in 1982 and is named after Rupert’s partner who died of AIDS. For over almost 40 years, Dr Whitaker has been a persistent advocate for people living with HIV and other chronic conditions, having had HIV since the age of 17 and being one of the longest surviving people with HIV.
Speaking about his Honorary Degree, Dr Whitaker said, “It was a real honour to be made an Honorary Doctor of Science at Royal Holloway today.
“As Bedford College alumni, it’s really important to me that the university recognises the work that I have gone on to do since graduating.
“I will continue to be a voice for people with HIV and other chronic conditions and I hope that this inspires students to go on and do whatever they aspire to.”
At the age of 30, Rupert had a brain-haemorrhage due to a congenital defect, followed by severe epilepsy from brain surgery and subsequently a heart-attack and a near-fatal neuromuscular disorder due to HIV-medication, which at the time, he was accused of fabricating.
Dr Rupert Whitaker then went on to found The Tuke Institute. The institute provides a platform for collaborative, applied/translational research and acts as an independent think tank; aiming to better medical services for the public’s benefit first.
From 2007, Dr Whitaker worked for international courts, in psychiatry, psychology and public health on cases from medical malpractice to illegal rendition for torture and murder. Rupert is currently a Fellow at the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence.