Frequently Asked Questions

  • To find the best host for each International AIDS Conference, the International AIDS Society (IAS) conducts an extensive, open-bid process that begins 18 months before a decision is made. For the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020), we engaged more than 20 cities across the world, starting in 2016.
  • The process involves an extensive evaluation that determines each city’s ability to house the meeting and its delegates, commitment to supporting scientific research and implementation, and inclusion of civil society and communities living with HIV in their local response. Each city is required to include a cross-section of policymakers, scientific researchers and civil society as part of the bid.
  • The leadership demonstrated by the State of California in bidding for AIDS 2020 was unparalleled. We received 33 letters of support from local AIDS organizations, local key population networks, leading activists and political leaders, all willing to support the mission of the conference. These included:
    • Senator Dianne Feinstein,
    • Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi,
    • Congresswoman Barbara Lee,
    • the Governor of California, and
    • the leaders of the State Legislature’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus.
  • For AIDS 2020, only cities in the global North completed a bid application. Even after direct engagement from IAS staff and site visits to potential hosts in the global South, we did not receive any applications.
  • More information about the selection process can be found here: www.aids2020.org/About/Hosting-AIDS-2020
  • Experience tells us that locations with significant challenges frequently offer the greatest opportunities for change. The 2000 conference in Durban is a good example of this, we went in knowing full well that the South African president was in denial that HIV even caused AIDS, and that gathering marked a turning point for our movement.
  • The US Government plays a vitally important role in addressing the epidemic both globally and domestically, and yet, year after year, we see attempts to dismantle and de-fund these programmes.
  • In its bid, the State of California and the cities of San Francisco and Oakland have jointly shown their willingness to leverage the conference as a platform to resist these changes in partnership with conference organizers.
  • Holding AIDS 2020 in the Bay Area will also allow us to showcase the innovative interventions that helped San Francisco nearly eliminate new infections and new strategies being employed in Oakland, a city tackling very different challenges.
  • Beyond the Bay Area, AIDS 2020 will shine a spotlight on communities across the US where the HIV epidemic is far from over. People of colour in the US continue to face disproportionate barriers to accessing prevention and treatment and if current trends persist, one in two black gay men will acquire HIV in his lifetime. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 1.2 million people in the US are living with HIV – and nearly one in eight of those are not aware that they are infected
  • The opioid crisis has fuelled a resurgence of new infections. In 2015 an outbreak was discovered in Indiana, and in 2018 the CDC announced another cluster in Massachusetts linked to injecting drug use.
  • The Bay Area partners who combined forces to bring AIDS 2020 to their communities are committed to using the conference to make HIV science and policy front-and-centre election year issues.
  • Key community and political leaders in San Francisco and Oakland recognize the benefit of the conference in solidifying collaborations between the two cities that will play an important role during the election year.
  • San Francisco and Oakland represent a tale of two cities, and two diverging experiences that offer insights relevant to the broader HIV community.
  • San Francisco was one of the first cities to embrace the UN 90-90-90 targets, and to launch a Getting to Zero effort involving a citywide collaboration of stakeholders from all sectors. It is on track to end new HIV infections by 2020.
  • Across the Bay, Oakland continues to face racial and economic disparities and disproportionate rates of HIV. The city signed onto the Fast-Track Cities Initiative in 2015 and is strengthening policies and programs tailored to communities most affected by HIV, specifically those that reduce social and economic barriers to HIV prevention and care, in order to reach the 90-90-90 targets.
  • The Bay Area is a hub of top-line, multi-disciplinary, global HIV/AIDS research, led by UCSF, SFDPH, the Gladstone Institute of Virology & Immunology, UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and Stanford University.
  • Conference organizers are committed to ensuring that programming and activities are equally represented in both cities.
  • No decisions have been made yet about how to split programming across the cities. The Conference Coordinating Committee will take on this responsibility, seeking input from key community partners. 
  • Since 2014, we have doubled the number of scholarships for conference attendees. We are committed to continuing to increase the number of scholarships available to those who otherwise could not afford to attend.
  • San Francisco has agreed to waive the cost of the conference venue. These significant savings will allow us to increase our investment in scholarships and keep to the commitment we have maintained for the last decade to not raise registration fees.
  • Local partners are also helping to secure low-cost accommodation by working with universities, hotels and hostels.
  • While there are many reasons for holding AIDS 2020 in the Bay Area, we recognize that an HIV conference in the United States faces serious practical challenges, which we are committed to addressing.
  • AIDS 2012 in Washington DC is an important model for preparing for AIDS 2020. Early engagement from policy experts and advocates helped address a large number of access issues for delegates travelling internationally. This successful model will be put in place for 2020.  
  • In preparation for AIDS 2020, we are setting up a national working group including members with strong links to the US Congress to examine existing laws and advise attendees on how to navigate them. That group will coordinate closely with the Conference Coordinating Committee – comprised of local Bay Area, regional US and international representatives, in addition to the International AIDS Conference permanent partners whose members reflect the international HIV community.
  • We are working with our partners to come up with creative solutions to make AIDS 2020 virtually accessible to participants in other countries and to ensure that the voices of those who cannot attend in person are heard at the conference. We are actively pursuing support from the many leading technology companies in the Bay Area to upgrade our remote access options significantly.
  • This planning has only just begun and is a priority of the Conference Coordinating Committee.

More information is available and will continue to be updated at www.aids2020.org.