The 21st International AIDS Conference — or AIDS 2016 — is just a week away. Social media platforms were abuzz today, when Kensington palace announced on twitter that Prince Harry will be attending the conference.
This year, the biennial event returns to the International Convention Centre (ICC) Durban, South Africa. Experts, scientists, advocates and world leaders descend on Durban, South Africa for AIDS 2016.
Hosted by Melbourne two years ago, the International AIDS Conference is the largest global health conference in the world. The event first convened in 1985 to provide a unique forum where science, advocacy and human rights could intersect.
Consisting of plenary sessions, workshops, discussions, debates, displays, presentations, performances and exhibits, organisers hope that AIDS 2016 will serve to encourage world leaders, scientists, policymakers, and people living with HIV to continue to push forward with the aim of changing the course of the 35-year-old epidemic forever.
This also appeared on the Sentabale’s website when news of Prince Harry’s visit broke:
Today, Prince Harry took an HIV test at Guys and St. Thomas’ Hospital, London, to show how easy it is to get tested. The visit came as part of Prince Harry’s on going efforts to raise awareness of issues surrounding HIV/AIDS in the UK and around the world; in particular the damaging effects of stigma.
The next stop will be The International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Durban on Thursday 21st July, where Prince Harry will represent his charity Sentebale to discuss the impact stigma and discrimination have on youth. With remarks from co-founding patron of Sentebale Prince Seeiso, Prince Harry and Sir Elton John, and a panel of young advocates will describe what is and what is not working for the HIV response among young people, and what needs to change to truly address the needs of youth with HIV.
The International AIDS Conference first convened during the peak of the epidemic in 1985, the largest conference on any global health or development issues in the world. Returning to Durban for a second time since 2000 underscoring the magnitude of the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. The conference continues to provide a unique forum for stakeholders to discuss where we are in the fight against AIDS, what we have learned, and how we move forward. Around 30,000 scientists, activists, policymakers and advocates working on HIV/AIDS will attend.
A popular conference component — the Global Village — will be open to the public once again, allowing communities to gather from all over the world to meet, share and learn from each other. Young people in particular are encouraged to play an active role at AIDS 2016, where a space will be provided for them to network and collaborate and showcase achievements from around the world. The full program of sessions and events can be viewed here.
This year’s conference theme is ‘Access Equity Rights Now’. Not only intended as a call to action to reach the millions of people still lacking comprehensive treatment, prevention, care and support, the theme also acts as a rallying cry to overcome injustices caused by the exclusion of people on the basis of gender, class, race, nationality, age, geographic location, sexual orientation and HIV status.
Just as AIDS 2000 in Durban served as a catalyst for global treatment advocacy and access, it is hoped, say organisers, that AIDS 2016 will be “a defining moment to establish a clear path toward guaranteeing that no one is left behind in the AIDS response”.