Today, the Kirby Institute joins our colleagues and friends in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Jude Byrne, a passionate advocate for the rights of people who use drugs in Australia and globally.
Jude was deeply involved in a number of drug user community organisations for over three decades, including the Australian Illicit and Inject Drug Users League (AIVL), the International Network on Health and Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU), and the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD). She was fiercely committed to advocating for the rights and equitable health access of people who use drugs, and was a thoughtful and insightful teacher. Through her various roles over many years, she delivered education on hepatitis C testing and treatment for the injecting community, as well as stigma and discrimination training for the wider community. Addressing inequalities and championing the human rights for the injecting drug user community was her life’s work, and will remain her legacy.
“Jude was a major reason I have loved my work with people who use drugs: staunchly committed to addressing stigma and discrimination, collaborative, insightful, genuine, and just such a wonderful person. I feel privileged that she was a colleague and friend. I’ll miss her terribly,” said Professor Gregory Dore, who is Head of the Kirby Institute’s Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program and worked with Jude over many years.
Professor Jason Grebely, who also worked closely with Jude through the Kirby Institute and in his role as President of INHSU said, “Jude was genuine, generous, insightful, open to new ideas, passionate, and tireless in her advocacy to improve the health of people who use drugs. As a friend, collaborator, and mentor, she helped me understand how to meaningfully engage with community. I am fortunate to have known and learned from her. I will miss her so much.”
Jude’s impact was far-reaching, and through her advocacy and advice, ensured that research and policy met the needs of the communities we serve. She touched the lives of so many across community, the research sector and beyond, and the lessons and insights she shared will remain a guiding force for the Kirby Institute’s hepatitis C research into the future. We extend our deepest sympathies to Jude’s family, friends and colleagues.