AIDS 2020 focused on the confluence of the HIV and Covid-19 pandemics

20 July 2020

The 23rd International AIDS Conference (IAS) , the first virtual edition of the world’s largest conference on HIV, was held from 6 –11 July with a focus on the links between HIV and the COVID-19 pandemic. Themed ‘resilience’, delegates from 175 countries registered for the conference with free virtual attendance to the special inaugural conference  on Covid-19.

Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, CAPRISA’s Associate Scientific Director and co-chair of UNAIDS Advisory Group to the Executive Director, was a panellist in the satellite session on 6th July, “2025 AIDS Targets: Setting the Next Generation of Goals for the Global AIDS Response,” led by UNAIDS Shannon Hader Deputy Executive Director, Programme.

Preventing HIV remains a major challenge, said Abdool Karim. “we are way off our 2020 prevention targets and need to focus on how to effectively reach vulnerable populations who are being left behind as a result of multiple inequities” She also participated as a panellist in a session with the UNAIDS Executive Director titled:  “UNAIDS next Global AIDS Strategy: Be part of making history”  and co-moderated with Dr Sten Vermund a special session on the HPTN scholarship program with the theme of “The next generation of emerging leaders of colour in the HIV prevention landscape”. 

Professor Salim Abdool Karim chair of the South African Ministerial Committee on Covid-19 presented in a plenary session on Covid-19 together with Dr Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Ambassador Deborah Birx White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator. Abdool Karim explained that the unsustainability of lockdown restrictions will require an innovative approach that required a major change in SARS-CoV-2 prevention. He spoke on pivoting the prevention paradigm. The principle of ubuntu (which means, ‘I am because we are’ translated, humanity towards others) was central to mitigate the risk factors of Covid-19 and promote the non-pharmaceutical public health prevention measures.