Born in Winnipeg, lived in Kenya, Kelly McGinnis then studied medicine at the University of Manitoba and McGill University. He was the former member of Ottawa-Carleton HIV Primary Care Group, a member of the Ottawa Physicians for Lesbian and Gay Health, and mentor to the Canadian HIV Aid Mentor Program.
At the peak of his practice, McGinnis had 2,000 patients, 100 of whom were HIV-positive. He also founded the Ottawa-Carleton HIV Primary Care Group with only three doctors, which at the time of his death grew to over 1000 frontline workers, and he helped push the province of Ontario towards using anonymous HIV testing.
McGinnis died of Hodgkin's disease Dec. 25, 1999, aged 40. The Ottawa Citizen reported: "His name was synonymous with compassion. He was out there battling for area gays and comforting HIV-infected individuals when others were looking the other way."
In recognition of his work with the Gay Community and those with HIV, a scholarship fund was established at the University of Ottawa, and the library at Pink Triangle Services, now Kind Space, was named in his honour.