The biennial International AIDS Conference—the premier global meeting for the HIV field— “convened” for its 23rd edition (AIDS 2020: Virtual) July 6-10. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year delegates came together virtually to hear about and discuss the latest HIV research findings and policy issues, and intersections with the coronavirus. The conference included various plenary, symposia, poster, and community workshop sessions—some live, others on-demand.
amfAR featured prominently at the conference. Public Policy Director Greg Millett delivered an opening plenary talk that contextualizes 40 years of disparities throughout the HIV pandemic and joined a live Q&A session with Dr. Linda-Gail Bekker of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, University of Cape Town, former president of the International AIDS Society.
amfAR’s Deputy Director of Public Policy Brian Honermann presented at a virtual community workshop that focused on the effective use of data tools to drive impactful change in the HIV response. And Policy Associate Jennifer Sherwood gave a symposium session talk on whether current approaches to collecting data capture the full impact of HIV on women.
Representatives of amfAR’s TREAT Asia program were also very active at AIDS 2020. TREAT Asia Director Dr. Annette Sohn moderated a prime session Q&A on pediatric HIV along with Martina Penazzato of the World Health Organization. Dr. Sohn also spoke at a workshop organized by the Journal of the International AIDS Society addressing the essential skill for early-career HIV researchers of writing and successfully submitting scientific papers to peer-reviewed journals. Numerous TREAT Asia partner investigators and affiliates also gave poster presentations at the conference.
Dr. Annette Sohn
HIV researchers are uniquely positioned to address the scientific challenges presented by COVID-19 and the conference featured many talks on the intersection of HIV and the coronavirus. Greg Millett joined Merck Vice President of Social Innovation Carmen Villar for a fireside chat to discuss a paper Millett co-authored assessing differential impacts of COVID-19 on black communities.
Millett also joined Chris Collins of Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and others in a session titled How did they do it? What successful communities can teach all of us about making dramatic progress against HIV epidemics and what this means in the age of COVID. The session was a one-year follow-up to a report co-authored by amfAR, AVAC and Friends of the Global Fight titled Translating Progress into Success to End the AIDS Epidemic. The report tracks key decisions that led to success against HIV in several locations around the world.
The final day of the conference, Friday, July 10, featured a special meeting on COVID-19, which was free and open to the public. It focused on developments in the research pipeline for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, policy analysis and lessons from the field.
For more information on the conference, click here.