This is a re-post from conference_news@aids2016 as sent to all Conference delegates
Pre-conferences kick off the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016)
AIDS 2016 was off and running this weekend with a schedule of pre-conference activities that played to capacity crowds in advance of the official conference opening today, on Monday, 18 July. Leaders representing the full spectrum of the global AIDS response, from faith communities to sex workers to paediatric advocates, participated in sessions on the cost of stigma, the fight against HIV criminalization, new treatment approaches, and a host of other topics addressing nearly every aspect of the global epidemic.
LIVING 2016, the 3rd Positive Leadership Summit, brought together people living with HIV (PLWHIV) from around the world to advocate for human rights and access to care and to reject HIV criminalization and stigma. No More Lip Service, Trans Access, Equity and Rights, Now!, the first ever trans pre-conference at an International AIDS Conference, addressed the most pressing issues for transgender people at risk for or living with HIV.
Other pre-conference highlights included the fifth annual Towards an HIV Cure Symposium, which featured the latest in HIV cure research and a keynote address from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci. Highlighted at the Symposium: the new International AIDS Society (IAS) Global Scientific Strategy: Towards an HIV Cure 2016, published this week in the journal Nature Medicine. This all-new cure strategy builds on the first ever HIV cure scientific roadmap issued by IAS in 2012, reviewssignificant recent advances in HIV cure research, and presents a plan to address the most critical knowledge gaps in the field. Discussion of a new report on investment in cure research by the IAS HIV Cure resource tracking group and AVAC also cheered delegates at the cure confab – it shows that global investment in cure research has more than doubled since 2012.
Also on the pre-conference programme was TB2016, a global gathering focused on strategies to combat tuberculosis, the biggest killer of people living with HIV worldwide. “TB and HIV are partners in crime,” South African Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi told the capacity audience. A press conference to draw global attention to the interplay of the TB and HIV epidemics was chaired by incoming IAS President-Elect Linda-Gail Bekker.
Eight additional pre-conference sessions rounded out a packed weekend schedule, focusing on such pressing issues as achieving the 90-90-90 goals; giving voice to positive adolescents and to gay and bisexual men affected by HIV; addressing HIV and viral hepatitis co-infection; and many other topics.
Music and dancing filled the air on Sunday evening at the gala opening of the Global Village. Where else can you find the latest in evening wear constructed entirely of condoms, lunch fares from around the world, and the opportunity to talk one on one with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) responding to HIV from dozens of countries, all under the same roof? If you missed the opening, not to worry, the Global Village will be in full swing throughout the conference. Visit the SolidariTree, a chance for conference goers to add their voice to the fight against HIV stigma, the Children’s Radio Foundation, where youth reporters from South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will broadcast the news from AIDS 2016 to 8 million listeners, the HIV Disclosure Couch, the Research Literacy Zone, or any of the hundreds of other booths and displays that await you at the AIDS 2016 Global Village.
Not all the action at AIDS 2016 happens inside the conference venue, however. More than a thousand highly effective AIDS activists, who also happen to be grandmothers, wrapped up theThe South Africa Grandmothers Gathering with a march to the International Convention Centre (ICC) on Saturday, where they rallied for better human rights-based responses to the epidemic. According to the event organizers, an estimated 14 million children in sub-Saharan Africa have been orphaned as a result of HIV, with many of these children being raised by their grandparents. Honorary grandmother Michel Sidibé of UNAIDS and former UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis joined the march, and IAS President Chris Beyrer brought cheers when he reminded the crowd that “a movement inspired by love cannot fail.”
No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to cover every session at AIDS 2016. Not to worry, though. We have a team of rapporteurs charged with reporting on each major conference session. Starting tomorrow you can follow their reports here.
HIV & AIDS Support House Inc.