The 20th International AIDS Conference being held in Melbourne, Australia started on a somber note as it mourned the loss of 6 of its colleagues, who were on way to attend this international event and did not make it – their lives lost to a tragic event as the Malaysian airliner they were traveling on was shot down. According to the conference website, there are 12,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries attending; the conference will run from 20-25th July. Updates about the conference can be accessed at their home page and their daily bulletin. The conference organizers are soliciting support for the Melbourne Declaration.
The conference attendees are mostly those working in the field of HIV, policy makers, persons living with HIV and others committed to ending the pandemic. The conference will address a host of issues ranging from access to treatment and services, sexual and reproductive rights, discrimination and violence, criminalization and justice. The AIDS 2014 program is expected to present new scientific knowledge in the form of plenary sessions and structured dialogue on the major issues facing the global response to HIV. Other presentations and abstracts will contribute to further professional development and networking.
In her welcoming comment the President of the International AIDS society, Francoise Barre Sinoussi stated that the 2014, conference builds on the advances and momentum created by the conference held in 2012. Appropriately titled, “Stepping up the Pace”, will once again serve to highlight the diverse nature of the Asia Pacific regions’ HIV epidemic and the unique responses. Young women living with HIV are expected to address both the opening and closing plenaries. Throughout the week women from several continents will examine intersections between violence and HIV, address rights violation within the context of healthcare and present alternative strategies to face HIV. AIDS 2014 is therefore an opportunity for mobilizing stakeholders joining forces to change the course of the epidemic.