Cochairs have been named for the 2020 International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020), which is slated to take place July 6 through 10 in San Francisco and Oakland. According to an announcement on AIDS2020.org, Cynthia Carey-Grant and Monica Gandhi will represent the host cities. International researcher Anton Pozniak will join them.
The international AIDS conferences are organized by the International AIDS Society (IAS). The largest gatherings of their kind, they are held every other year at different cities across the globe. This summer, the 23rd international conference, AIDS 2018, was held in Amsterdam. (For a roundup of the scientific research that came out of AIDS 2018, read “All the AIDS Conference News That’s Fit to Print.”)
According to the AIDS 2020 cochair announcement, a coordinating committee of diverse experts in several related fields is appointed for each of the international conferences.
Representing Oakland is cochair Carey-Grant. She comes from a line of nurses and advocates for women, people of color and justice. “Black women in the U.S. are still almost 20 times more likely to acquire HIV than a white woman,” she notes in the announcement. “This disparity has changed very little over a decade and is most impactful on those women who live in the Southern United States.”
Representing San Francisco is cochair Monica Gandhi. An Indian American from Utah, she is an HIV clinician who directs an HIV medical clinic in San Francisco. Although the city has seen amazing success in lowering new HIV rates, Gandhi says: “I have not ever seen this city self-congratulate or pat itself on its back— instead the conversation is always focused on how we can do better and what we can do to address disparities. I am also really excited about new Oakland/San Francisco connections that will be forged by this meeting.”
Finally, Anton Pozniak was announced as the AIDS 2020 international chair. He is also the president of IAS. A researcher and scientist who has fought the epidemic since the early 1980s, Pozniak is from England. “San Francisco is a shining example for all cities in the work toward a global response,” he said. “And having the conference in both cities will highlight important issues, especially in Oakland, of the need to expand access to care, roll out pre-exposure prophylaxis [PrEP] and provide sustainable care to Black gay men.”
The decision to hold AIDS 2020 in San Francisco has been met with controversy since it was first announced earlier this year. A growing number of activists and organizations are demanding it be moved off U.S. soil.
For more details, see the POZ article “Why Activists Want the 2020 AIDS Conference Removed From the U.S.” and the POZ feature “How Red Does the Line Have to Be?” In addition, blogger Mark S. King recently posted “AIDS2020 Will Welcome All the Right People to the USA. What a Travesty.”
A POZ poll on the topic of moving the conference has been live since March. You can vote below. When you add your opinion, you find out how others have voted.