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San Francisco and Oakland to host AIDS 2020

The world’s largest HIV conference returns 30 years later to where the AIDS epidemic first emerged in the US.

IMAGE FROM PIXABAY.COM

The International AIDS Society (IAS) announced that San Francisco, California, in partnership with nearby Oakland, will host the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020). This is 30 years after the event was held there at the height of the epidemic in the US. AIDS 2020 will take place on 6-10 July 2020 and is expected to bring together more than 15,000 participants from around the world.

“San Francisco is an inseparable part of the story of HIV/AIDS,” Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said. “It is fitting and deeply inspiring that advocates, researchers and survivors will return to the Bay Area for the 2020 International AIDS Conference.

“The people of San Francisco will never forget what it took to come from those darkest times, when many of us were going to two funerals a day, to a time when we are celebrating weddings and retirements of people with HIV.

“We must all continue to act with urgency, vigilance and compassion to end the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, address the health effects of aging and antiretroviral therapy for long-term survivors and build on the success of San Francisco’s community-based model of care. Together, we can banish this disease to the history books to achieve an AIDS-free generation.”

“The Bay Area has long been at the forefront of the AIDS epidemic,” US Congresswoman Barbara Lee said. “While San Francisco and Oakland emerged as an early epicenter of the crisis, these cities have also been a hub for AIDS activism, research and community support.

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“It’s fitting that with an end to AIDS on the horizon, the International AIDS Conference will return to the Bay Area for the first time in 30 years.

“As the federal representative to the East Bay and co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, I am pleased that this conference will shine a light on the groundbreaking HIV/AIDS advocacy and research taking place in Oakland.”

It was in San Francisco that a mysterious disease, later identified as AIDS, first emerged onto wide public awareness as a major issue in the early 1980s.

When the city hosted the 6th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 1990), AIDS was well on its way to becoming the main cause of death of Americans aged 25 to 44. By 1995, the city had the highest percentage of people infected with HIV in the US, and by far, most were gay or bisexual men.

Although Oakland is fewer than 7 kilometres from San Francisco, different social and economic conditions in several East and West Oakland neighbourhoods have contributed to notable racial/ethnic inequities in the HIV burden. In 2014, there were 3,275 people living with HIV in Oakland. African Americans accounted for more than half of all new diagnoses and Latinos about 20%. The rate of new HIV diagnosis among African Americans from 2012 to 2014 was three times higher than that for whites.

“It is long overdue that the conference returns to the San Francisco and Oakland area,” Anton Pozniak, IAS president-elect and AIDS 2020 international chair, said. “The significant role these two cities have played in the history of HIV in the US for the past 30 years is unparalleled.

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“The partnership of San Francisco and Oakland hosting AIDS 2020 serves as an apt metaphor for the global effort to end HIV – working together across political and social divides to achieve our goal of ending this pandemic.”

“Oakland is just across the bay from San Francisco,” Marsha Martin, DSW, Community Convener of the Fast Track Cities-Get Screened Oakland and Coordinating Director of the Global Network of Black People Working in HIV, added. “However, our epidemic and the resources we’ve been able to bring to it have been radically different from San Francisco’s.

“We are looking forward to furthering our partnerships with San Francisco, highlighting our collective progress, and sharing clinical and community leadership at AIDS 2020.”

“The IAS is organizing AIDS 2020 in local partnership with the host city bid leaders–San Francisco Travel and San Francisco AIDS Foundation–and other bid committee members–University of California San Francisco, San Francisco Department of Public Health, Oakland Mayor’s Office, and Alameda County Public Health Department.”

The US also hosted the 3rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 1987) in Washington D.C. The event returned to the city in 2012 after the Obama administration lifted the 20-year-old HIV travel ban that barred entry of people living with HIV or AIDS to the US.

The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) was held in Durban, South Africa, and the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) will be held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on 23-28 July 2018.

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