AIDS, HIV conferences canceled and due to coronavirus

Over 37 million people are currently living with HIV, and 32 million have lost their lives to AIDS, according to the World Health Organization.

AIDS Ribbon (photo credit: REUTERS)
AIDS Ribbon
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020), which was scheduled to be held in San Fransisco and Oakland in July, will be held virtually for the first time due to coronavirus concerns. Additionally, HIV 2020, which was supposed to be held in Mexico, was cancelled due to the pandemic, but organizers have yet to announce an alternative.
Kevin Osborne, Executive Director of the International AIDS Society (IAS), said that, “the AIDS 2020: Virtual theme is resilience. There is no better word to describe what’s needed at this time,” UNAIDS wrote in a press release. “For today, this resilience is being tested by a rapidly evolving global health landscape, to which we must now add the COVID-19 pandemic.”
UNAIDS announced its support to hold The 23rd AIDS International Conference (AIDS2020) virtually after it was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. Additionally, UNAIDS says it hopes that HIV 2020 "can be held in some form."
“I thank the organizers for going ahead with the 2020 International AIDS Conference, and in a way that will protect the lives and well-being of the thousands of participants. I call on people to get together at AIDS 2020: Virtual in greater numbers than ever before and recommit to working together to end the AIDS epidemic,” said Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director. “I hope that HIV2020 can still go ahead in some form and UNAIDS supports the decision of the co-organizers to put the health and safety of communities first.”
HIV 2020 announced on its website that its organizers are “exploring alternatives” to the traditional face-to-face conference. In the announcement, they explained that the conference “was imagined as a safe alternative for people unable or unwilling to enter the US, but who nevertheless wanted to take part in global discussions about the HIV response.” They added that the event “was also meant to be a protest of the IAS’s structure and decision-making processes,” and called the society's decision to hold AIDS 2020 in the US “ill-advised.”
“We must not forget, however, that the HIV epidemic has not gone away. Even in these difficult times, our partners are making sure that the AIDS response carries on – unsung heroes are ensuring that HIV treatment and prevention services for people living with and affected by HIV continue to be available,” Byanyima, said.
The HIV epidemic is ongoing with over 37 million people currently living with the disease. Some 32 million lives have been lost as a results of AIDS, according to the World Health Organization.