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Global AIDS Conference Underway


British Prince Harry (2ndL) and sir Elton John (3rdL) pose for a picture during a session about the Elton John Aids Fund on the second day of the Aids2018 conference, in Amsterdam

The AIDS 2022 international conference is underway in Montreal, Canada, bringing together thousands of experts, practitioners, and advocates to continue the effort to educate people about AIDS as well as keep the pressure on governments to address it.

The global conference on AIDS, convened by the International Aids Society (IAS), is meant, as the group states on its website, to "unite scientists, policy makers and activists to galvanize the scientific response, build global solidarity and enhance human dignity for all those living with and affected by HIV."

The meeting, which opened July 29, runs until August 2 in Quebec's capital. Along with AIDS 2022, the IAS also hosts the "IAS Conference on HIV Science" as well as the "HIV Research for Prevention Conference."

The goal, as stated by IAS, is to achieve a "world in which HIV no longer presents a threat to public health and individual well-being."

The IAS says "The conference’s participatory approach involves community representatives, researchers and policy makers. Jointly, they inform decisions such as host city selection and program design. And, of course, they create the Global Village and Youth program.".

Featured speakers include U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Tony Fauci, Zimbabwe Global Network of People Living with HIV official Annah Sango, Solange Baptiste at the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) in South Africa, Shereen el-Feki of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS in Egypt, the South Africa Desmond Tutu HIV Center's Linda-Gail Bekker, and Glenda Gray at the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC).

Along with these health experts and advocates, the policy side of the HIV/AIDS discussion will be addressed by the U.S. State Department's John Nkengasong, among others.

Ahead of the Montreal conference, the IAS expressed deep concerns over what they termed the high number of persons who were denied visas by Canada to attend the conference. The IAS website stated "This is preventing many people from some of the countries most affected by HIV from entering Canada and attending AIDS 2022, including IAS staff and leadership."

In response, the Canadian government said it “prioritized temporary travel visas for people seeking to attend the International AIDS Conference in Montreal at the end of July,” but conference officials said the situation compels many would-be direct participants to instead attend virtually.

The annual IAS conference has been spotlighted by a number of celebrities, including music performer Elton John, and luminaries including British royal Prince Harry.

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