Windhoek - While many global conferences have been cancelled and postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 23rd International Aids conference will for the first time in history be held virtually in July.
Information shows that the conference which was supposed to be traditionally held in San Francisco and Oakland, the United States of America, will be held as a teleconference in-line with the global measures in place to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the theme “Resilience”, the conference, which is hosted by the International Aids Society (IAS) after every two years, will enable delegates to virtually access and engage with the latest HIV science, advocacy and knowledge that was presented traditionally during previous editions.
“It will be a compelling combination of virtual sessions and community networking, including exhibitions, workshops, the global village, satellites and pre-conferences that will reach audiences around the world,” said the IAS.
IAS suggests that the development was informed by advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNAIDS, leading global and local authorities as well as people living with HIV around the world.
Last year and early this year thousands of delegates had registered for the big conference and the host organisation said it would contact registered delegates directly in due course with further information on the new, reduced pricing structures. The details of the virtual programme will be shared to participants in a few weeks.
Although the conference is set to be held virtually, information shows that many of those who were planning to attend from the health sector are now working on the front lines in response to Covid-19 around the world.
This triggers questions on the efficiency of the virtual approach to host such a big conference.
In 2018, the International Aids Science conference was held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from 23-27 July 23 under the theme “Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges”. The theme was meant to draw attention to the need of rights-based approaches to more effectively reach key populations.
This year’s theme for the conference also involves Covid-19.
“The Aids 2020 Virtual theme is “Resilience”. There is no better word to describe what is needed at this time. For today, this resilience is being tested by a rapidly evolving global health landscape to which we must now add the Covid-19 pandemic. In solidarity, now more than ever the HIV community needs to come together in our shared communities to ensure that evidence and human rights remain cornerstones of our response,” said Kevin Osborne, the Executive Director of IAS.