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The organizers of HIV2020, which include the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), International Civil Society Support (ICSS), the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD), and MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights, unanimously came to this difficult decision in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All paid HIV2020 registrants will be reimbursed.
HIV2020 organizers had hoped to issue an announcement in line with the International AIDS Society (IAS). However, as the Mexican government has suspended large events and gatherings through August and possibly beyond, we could not wait any longer. The organizers of HIV2020 prioritizes above all else the health and safety of our communities. We cannot overstate the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While we proposed coordinating the timing of announcements in a show of solidarity, the urgency of making and announcing a decision around HIV2020 given the Mexico announcement made such an action difficult. In addition, while we kept ourselves open to coordinating bridges between parallel virtual sessions, there was never a suggestion about merging the two events. We have and will continue to keep channels of communication open between ourselves and the IAS.
HIV2020 organizers are compelled to remind the public that our initial efforts to organize HIV2020 was in response to the ill-advised decision IAS made to bring AIDS2020 to the United States of America (U.S.). We remain firm in our belief that it is inappropriate to bring a global gathering on HIV to the U.S., given its discriminatory travel bans and immigration policies. HIV2020 was imagined as a safe alternative for people unable or unwilling to enter the U.S., but who nevertheless wanted to take part in global discussions about the HIV response.
HIV2020 was also meant to be a protest of the IAS’ structure and decision-making processes, which still lacks systematic and more meaningful strategies for engaging communities of people living with and most affected by HIV. HIV2020 also sought to create fit-for-purpose formats for the equitable deliberation of community- and key population-led responses, new science, best practice, developments in related fields including human rights, and their implications for the global HIV response.
HIV2020 organizers are still exploring alternatives to a face-to-face meeting. This may include virtual sessions (i.e., pre-recorded keynote addresses from leaders in the field, live-streamed panel presentations led by community advocates and community-led service providers, and virtual discussion rooms) aligned with the HIV2020 themes of affinity, intersectionality, and solidarity. Alternatives to a face-to-face meeting will most certainly shine a spotlight on the critical role communities have and must continue to play in the global HIV response.