The movement to confront the AIDS epidemic is a portrait in resilience that has led to one of
the most extraordinary public health responses in history.
Thirty years ago, the 6th International AIDS Conference in San Francisco (AIDS 1990) was a perfect demonstration of the resilience of the HIV community. In 1990, San Francisco was
being devastated by HIV, with thousands of people being diagnosed and hundreds of people dying each year in the absence of effective treatment. That same year, the rapid spread of HIV across sub-Saharan Africa was becoming alarmingly apparent with subsequent
declines in life expectancy. In 1990, many scientific experts wondered whether HIV could ever be effectively addressed, projecting a future in which HIV rates would continue to spiral upwards.
At that moment of extreme peril, when little hope
was on the horizon, scientists and people living with HIV confronted political and public health leaders as a united front in San Francisco, demanding answers for the inadequate response to a rapidly growing pandemic. The upwelling of solidarity and commitment
at AIDS 1990 in a time of profound danger and uncertainty forced the world to see the reality of what was happening to people who were ignored and dying of AIDS-related causes, and pressured leaders to take action.
In the three decades since
then, the resilience of the HIV community continued to be tested time and time again. Confronted with a new health threat, communities across the world created organizations that cared for the sick, worked to prevent new HIV infections, and advocated for greater
action to combat the disease. In the face of a seemingly hopeless scientific and humanitarian challenge, scientists and activists joined together to accelerate the development of breakthrough treatment and biomedical prevention tools.
our unceasing collective passion and strategic action that has led to extraordinary advances that have saved millions of lives. We pushed for political commitments that led to the launch of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the two largest funders of the global HIV response.
In the countries most affected by HIV, the union of scientists and community advocates led to increases in national budgetary commitments
for health. We confronted AIDS denialism and helped unlock treatment access in low- and middle-income countries across the world – a feat once regarded as fanciful. In many countries, we forced political leaders to overturn repressive policies targeting
people most vulnerable to HIV.
Today, the resilience that has taken us this far is being tested – this time, in new and different ways as the global health landscape is not what it once was. Now, we must come together and make common
cause with other health issues while holding on to the key attributes that have made the HIV response so unique and so successful. We must ensure that we push forward integrated care and prevention approaches that will work for all people living with or at
risk of HIV. Our ability to navigate this next phase of the HIV response, with the necessary adaptations in the current setting, is key to help set the emerging new generation of leaders on the path to future success.
As the 23rd International
AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020) approaches, we must unite to face the challenges of a deteriorating human rights climate, repressive and punitive national laws in many countries across the globe, increasing xenophobia and social exclusion, and the widening gap
between those with and without access to health services. We must use this moment to highlight our successes and address the gaps in the treatment, prevention and care paradigms to demonstrate the strength of our resilience.
AIDS 2020 is
a call to action for:
- Resilience to
meet the challenges of a rapidly changing global health landscape and to persevere in the face of uncertainty
- Resilience to insist on the fundamental human right to live with HIV in dignity and good health over
a lifetime, to bounce back from adversity and to help each other in doing so
- Resilience to avoid fragmentation in the response and to remain united and inclusive in order to meet our common challenges
- Resilience to
lead advocacy and programme implementation until new infections are stopped and everyone has access to prevention, treatment and the social support they need
- Resilience to advance science in order to find an effective vaccine, develop new prevention tools, improve
treatment regimens, including generic options, identify additional effective behaviour-change strategies and ultimately to produce an affordable and accessible cure for HIV
- Resilience to fight against laws that codify stigma, discrimination and criminalization that restrict
gender equality and access to human rights-based responses
- Resilience to join with advocates and scientists working on other health challenges and find common cause to advance universal health care worldwide
- Resilience to
demand the long-term resources needed to achieve global HIV targets in a comprehensive global health agenda and to push back against short-sighted cuts to national and international budgets.
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|About the series |
With a focus on people living with HIV, public health experts, activists, politicians and pop culture icons, AIDS 2020 is a podcast that follows the stories of key players connected to the conference as the epidemic approaches a critical inflection
point. Hosted by H. Andrew Schwartz, Stephen Morrison, and Sara Allinder at the CSIS.
Episode I: An Interview with Monica Gandhi
In this inaugural episode of AIDS 2020, CSIS’s Steve Morrison and Andrew Schwartz speak with Dr. Monica Gandhi, a physician and the San Francisco co-chair of the AIDS 2020 conference.
They discuss preparations for next year’s conference and the meaning of the AIDS 2020 conference theme: “Resilience.”
|The AIDS 2020 Local Planning Group acts as a central point in planning and coordinating local activities in the lead up to and during the AIDS 2020 conference. READ MORE |
| |Larkin Callaghan
University of California, San Francisco
Growing up in San Francisco, Dr. Larkin Callaghan couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
As well as being an elected Co-Chair of the AIDS2020 Local Planning Group, Larkin also serves as the Director
of Strategic Research Communications and Partnerships for the AIDS Research Institute at UCSF.
| |Rob Newells
AIDS Project East Bay
It’s been more than 20 years since the Reverend Rob Newells, an Associate Minister at the Imani Community Church
in his native city of Oakland, and Executive Director of the AIDS Project of the East Bay, consciously dedicated himself to the community of those living with and affected by HIV.
|The AIDS 2020 Local Planning Group is led by a Steering Committee which currently has 23 members with representatives from the City of San Francisco, City of Oakland and Department
of Health, as well as elected officials and members of the Conference Coordinating Committee (CCC). READ MORE |
supporter of the
Local Planning Group
Show your support for the Local Planning Group by adding your name to the list of community supporters.
rights at the centreErika Castellanos, Director of Programmes at Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE) on the power of uniting science and advocacy.
Bay Area response
Congresswoman Barbara Lee and local Bay Area advocates discuss progress and remaining challenges in addressing HIV.
our storiesMinister Rob Newells on the importance of reaching key populations in the global AIDS response.
San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO and CCC member Joe Hollendoner’s perspective on what’s working.
future of HIV
AIDS 2020 Oakland Chair Cynthia Carey-Grant’s perspective on ensuring that no one is left behind in progress against the epidemic.