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Meet your AIDS 2020 Co-chairs

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For each International AIDS Conference, a Conference Coordinating Committee (CCC), comprised of a diverse group of international experts, is appointed. It sets overall conference policies and priorities and ensures that the conference pillars of community, leadership and science are reflected across the agenda. Representing the host cities of Oakland and San Francisco, Cynthia Carey-Grant and Monica Gandhi will join IAS President Anton Pozniak in leading the AIDS 2020 CCC.

Cynthia Carey-Grant, AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, Oakland

Advocate for women, communities of colour, and justice

Cynthia Carey-Grant Cynthia Carey-Grant comes from a long line of nurses. She might have followed the family path, “but I’m squeamish at the sight of blood,” she said. A self-proclaimed child of the 1960s who came of age during the height of the Black Power and women’s empowerment movements, Carey-Grant moved to Oakland more than 20 years ago. 

She first encountered the AIDS epidemic while living in the Southern United States in the 1980s. “This unnamed disease was affecting gay men, especially black gay men,” she said. “And we weren’t yet thinking of the effects on women.”

Carey-Grant has built a career around thinking about women and their access to healthcare. Before entering the field of HIV, she worked at Planned Parenthood and served as Manager for Women’s Health for Northern California at Kaiser Permanente.

In 1994, she travelled to Egypt as part of a non-governmental delegation to the International Conference on Population and Development. The experience she had there, surrounded by women from all corners of the globe and all walks of life, changed her life.

“I learned so much from women who had to make limited resources go very far,” she recalled. She returned home recommitted to reproductive justice, a movement founded on the belief that women should have a choice over what happens to their bodies.

“When I went to Cairo in 1994, we weren’t talking about the high rates of death among African American women in the US or the impact of HIV on African Americans. We weren’t talking about health disparities,” she said. “Black women in the US are still almost 20 times more likely to acquire HIV than a white woman. This disparity has changed very little over a decade and is most impactful on those women who live in the Southern United States.”

As the AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, Oakland, Carey-Grant is excited that women and men in her community, who might not otherwise have the opportunity to travel to an international conference, will have a global forum come to them. “I know what participation has done for me and my growth as a person,” she said.

She is particularly excited that the conference will take place just months before the next presidential elections. “The timing is important for people in the US to have a broader global perspective.”

Monica Gandhi, AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, San Francisco

Global and local clinician

Monica GandhiIn September, the city of San Francisco reviewed new citywide HIV data and announced that there were just 221 new HIV infections over the past year, the lowest number since the epidemic began. Yet instead of celebrating this milestone, advocates, scientists and researchers immediately began to dig into the numbers.

“It led to a deep dive into who was being left out, such as the homeless population of San Francisco,” Monica Gandhi explained. She is an HIV clinician and researcher who moved to the Bay Area for her medical residency in 1996 and never left.

“It’s exciting to be in San Francisco. I have not ever seen this city self-congratulate or pat itself on its back – instead the conversation is always focused on how we can do better, and what we can do to address disparities. I am also really excited about new Oakland/San Francisco connections that will be forged by this meeting.”

This dynamism has paid off: San Francisco is on track to reach zero new HIV infections by 2020, clearing one of its ambitious “Getting to Zero” targets that also seek to eliminate HIV-related death and HIV stigma.

As an Indian American who grew up in Utah, Gandhi is no stranger to stigma. “I experienced a lot of racism growing up,” she said. “I’m motivated by social justice.”

As part of this motivation, she strives to provide quality care to all patients and do what she can to relieve stigma. “I can’t think of many other disease states in the world where a patient is blamed for his or her disease,” she said. “When I’m seeing a new HIV patient, the first thing I say is, ‘This is not your fault and my hope is that everything we do will help HIV become a routine part of your life and not what you think about every day.’ That’s my job as a clinician.”

In addition to directing a large public-health funded medical clinic in San Francisco, Gandhi stays connected to her Indian roots through her research. She travels regularly to Bangalore, where she co-leads a project supported by the US National Institutes of Health. The study examines challenges that patients paying for mid-level private healthcare face in staying on HIV treatment. “Stigma infiltrates every aspect of HIV in India,” she noted.

As the AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, San Francisco, Gandhi looks forward to hosting the global community in the Bay Area. She describes it as a place that “resists bad policies” and “a place of comfort” to those disheartened by national politics in the US. “I hope this place can provide international delegates a place to think creatively about disparities and how to address that we still have “Miles to Go” before we rest.  There is no question in my mind that we will eventually get there, but there is still work to be done.”

Anton Pozniak, AIDS 2020 International Chair

International scientist, researcher and optimist

Anton PozniakAnton Pozniak attended his first International AIDS Conference in San Francisco in 1990. Thirty years later, he will return to the Bay Area as IAS President and International Chair of the conference.

Pozniak has been involved in the HIV field from the earliest days of the epidemic. In 1983, while completing his medical residency in London, he encountered one of the first known cases of HIV in the United Kingdom. “Of course we didn’t call it that then,” he said. “We didn’t know what to call it. My supervisor just said, ‘That guy has pneumonia. A few years later my hospital had the first HIV dedicated ward opened by Princess Diana.”

Originally from the midlands of England, Pozniak’s career eventually took him to Zimbabwe to work on tuberculosis. “We were told by the government that there was no HIV in Zimbabwe,” he said. “But of course that wasn’t the case.”

Pozniak travelled from Africa to San Francisco to attend the 6th International AIDS Conference in San Francisco. Only seven years had passed since seeing his first patient in London and he was amazed at how quickly the HIV field had sprung up to confront the epidemic. “It was very exciting to be in San Francisco,” he recalled. “There was a lot of activism and energy every time you went in and out of the conference.”

Three decades later, as an HIV researcher and the head of Europe’s largest specialized HIV treatment centre, Pozniak still finds the Bay Area exciting. “The science base is enormous,” he said. “They are involved in every aspect of the epidemic, from vaccines to drug development.”

He is particularly encouraged by the dual hosting by Oakland and San Francisco. “San Francisco is a shining example for all cities in the work toward a global response,” he said. “And having the conference in both cities will highlight important issues, especially in Oakland, of the need to expand access to care, roll out pre-exposure prophylaxis and provide sustainable care to black gay men.”

Progress from one conference to the next keeps Pozniak going. “I’m not a gloom and doom guy,” he said, adding that he hopes to see updates on getting more people on treatment, advances in cure and vaccine research and differentiated care to keep people on treatment at AIDS 2020. “I’m very optimistic about the future”.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • To determine the location 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), IAS also conducted proactive outreach to more than 20 cities worldwide to encourage them to submit a bid, starting in 2016.
  • The process involves an extensive evaluation of 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 policy makers, 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:
    • Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris
    • Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
    • Congresswoman Barbara Lee
    • Leaders of the State Legislature’s LGBT Caucus
    • Governor Jerry Brown
  • For AIDS 2020, only cities in the global North chose to submit bids. Even after extensive outreach from IAS staff and site visits to potential hosts in the global South, we did not receive any applications.
  • Experience tells us that locations with significant challenges frequently offer the greatest opportunities for change. AIDS 2000 in Durban is a good example. We went in fully aware that the South African president was in denial that HIV even caused AIDS; 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 discriminatory policies, in partnership with conference organizers.
  • Holding AIDS 2020 in the Bay Area will allow us to showcase innovations that have helped San Francisco nearly eliminate new infections and to examine 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 (CDC) 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.
  • Partners in both San Francisco and Oakland are committed to using the conference to make HIV science and policy front-and-centre election year issues.
  • With the selection of the Bay Area for AIDS 2020, we have the chance to elevate US and global HIV concerns to the national and international stage. That includes shining a spotlight on and working to reform unjust policies that restrict entry into the country and perpetuate a climate of stigma and fear.
  • This is a rare moment to put HIV and those most affected, including people of colour, minorities and the economically disadvantaged, at the centre of the election discussion.
  • 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.
  • We think that hosting AIDS 2020 in the US at this time will potentially give HIV a much bigger platform than it would otherwise have in important national and political debates that will be happening then.
  • Through the unique partnership of Oakland and San Francisco, we can examine two very different epidemics.
  • 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 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 programmes 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.
  • he 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 partners throughout the decision process.
  • 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 past 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. We have strong political commitment that we believe will help us in finding creative ways to address these issues.
  • 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.
  • Given the additional challenges we face under this US administration, for AIDS 2020, we are committed to taking that a step further. We have already convened a high-level, multidisciplinary, bipartisan working group to address specific immigration challenges, of which safe and unimpeded entry for key populations – even beyond the conference – is a priority. This working group will coordinate with migration experts to examine existing laws and advise attendees on how to navigate them.
  • 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 enhance our remote access options.
  • This planning has only just begun and is a priority of the Conference Coordinating Committee.
  • All countries have immigration restrictions and, as with each conference, we work with civil society, governments, private sector partners and others to find innovative ways to ensure maximum participation in the conference – especially for key populations and people living with HIV.
  • We pledge to use the conference platform to continue advocating against discriminatory and stigmatizing policies and practices in all countries to effect change on our shared concerns, such as visa and immigration issues. Although many of these challenges are not just US-specific, they are particularly challenging under the current administration.
  • There are, however, specific events that would automatically be grounds for moving the conference. If, for example, the HIV travel ban is reinstated, the reintroduction of this policy would not allow for the GIPA Principle – one of the key markers in the HIV movement – to be realized and, as such, would be a catalyst for moving the conference.
  • Medical conditions and evidence of financial security for entry are requirements from all governments, including “friendly” administrations, such as The Netherlands and Canada. In anticipation that a strict administration would likely affect the interpretation and enforcement of these criteria, we commissioned a report from a subject matter expert to better understand current US immigration law related to non-immigrant travel into the US (Business B-1 and Tourism B-2 Visas) and the implications for AIDS 2020.
  • The report will be used to help guide the work of the national advisory group and local leaders to help us leverage this moment for change.

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

AIDS 2020 offers excellent opportunities for corporate partners to demonstrate their support for the HIV response and to showcase their HIV-related work. Please check our sponsorship brochure to find out more details on available packages.

For further information, please contact Jeanne Mencier who is also available to discuss customized sponsorship packages tailored to best meet your specific needs.

Meet your AIDS 2020 Co-chairs

posted on

For each International AIDS Conference, a Conference Coordinating Committee (CCC), comprised of a diverse group of international experts, is appointed. It sets overall conference policies and priorities and ensures that the conference pillars of community, leadership and science are reflected across the agenda. Representing the host cities of Oakland and San Francisco, Cynthia Carey-Grant and Monica Gandhi will join IAS President Anton Pozniak in leading the AIDS 2020 CCC.

Cynthia Carey-Grant, AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, Oakland

Advocate for women, communities of colour, and justice

Cynthia Carey-Grant Cynthia Carey-Grant comes from a long line of nurses. She might have followed the family path, “but I’m squeamish at the sight of blood,” she said. A self-proclaimed child of the 1960s who came of age during the height of the Black Power and women’s empowerment movements, Carey-Grant moved to Oakland more than 20 years ago. 

She first encountered the AIDS epidemic while living in the Southern United States in the 1980s. “This unnamed disease was affecting gay men, especially black gay men,” she said. “And we weren’t yet thinking of the effects on women.”

Carey-Grant has built a career around thinking about women and their access to healthcare. Before entering the field of HIV, she worked at Planned Parenthood and served as Manager for Women’s Health for Northern California at Kaiser Permanente.

In 1994, she travelled to Egypt as part of a non-governmental delegation to the International Conference on Population and Development. The experience she had there, surrounded by women from all corners of the globe and all walks of life, changed her life.

“I learned so much from women who had to make limited resources go very far,” she recalled. She returned home recommitted to reproductive justice, a movement founded on the belief that women should have a choice over what happens to their bodies.

“When I went to Cairo in 1994, we weren’t talking about the high rates of death among African American women in the US or the impact of HIV on African Americans. We weren’t talking about health disparities,” she said. “Black women in the US are still almost 20 times more likely to acquire HIV than a white woman. This disparity has changed very little over a decade and is most impactful on those women who live in the Southern United States.”

As the AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, Oakland, Carey-Grant is excited that women and men in her community, who might not otherwise have the opportunity to travel to an international conference, will have a global forum come to them. “I know what participation has done for me and my growth as a person,” she said.

She is particularly excited that the conference will take place just months before the next presidential elections. “The timing is important for people in the US to have a broader global perspective.”

Monica Gandhi, AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, San Francisco

Global and local clinician

Monica GandhiIn September, the city of San Francisco reviewed new citywide HIV data and announced that there were just 221 new HIV infections over the past year, the lowest number since the epidemic began. Yet instead of celebrating this milestone, advocates, scientists and researchers immediately began to dig into the numbers.

“It led to a deep dive into who was being left out, such as the homeless population of San Francisco,” Monica Gandhi explained. She is an HIV clinician and researcher who moved to the Bay Area for her medical residency in 1996 and never left.

“It’s exciting to be in San Francisco. I have not ever seen this city self-congratulate or pat itself on its back – instead the conversation is always focused on how we can do better, and what we can do to address disparities. I am also really excited about new Oakland/San Francisco connections that will be forged by this meeting.”

This dynamism has paid off: San Francisco is on track to reach zero new HIV infections by 2020, clearing one of its ambitious “Getting to Zero” targets that also seek to eliminate HIV-related death and HIV stigma.

As an Indian American who grew up in Utah, Gandhi is no stranger to stigma. “I experienced a lot of racism growing up,” she said. “I’m motivated by social justice.”

As part of this motivation, she strives to provide quality care to all patients and do what she can to relieve stigma. “I can’t think of many other disease states in the world where a patient is blamed for his or her disease,” she said. “When I’m seeing a new HIV patient, the first thing I say is, ‘This is not your fault and my hope is that everything we do will help HIV become a routine part of your life and not what you think about every day.’ That’s my job as a clinician.”

In addition to directing a large public-health funded medical clinic in San Francisco, Gandhi stays connected to her Indian roots through her research. She travels regularly to Bangalore, where she co-leads a project supported by the US National Institutes of Health. The study examines challenges that patients paying for mid-level private healthcare face in staying on HIV treatment. “Stigma infiltrates every aspect of HIV in India,” she noted.

As the AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, San Francisco, Gandhi looks forward to hosting the global community in the Bay Area. She describes it as a place that “resists bad policies” and “a place of comfort” to those disheartened by national politics in the US. “I hope this place can provide international delegates a place to think creatively about disparities and how to address that we still have “Miles to Go” before we rest.  There is no question in my mind that we will eventually get there, but there is still work to be done.”

Anton Pozniak, AIDS 2020 International Chair

International scientist, researcher and optimist

Anton PozniakAnton Pozniak attended his first International AIDS Conference in San Francisco in 1990. Thirty years later, he will return to the Bay Area as IAS President and International Chair of the conference.

Pozniak has been involved in the HIV field from the earliest days of the epidemic. In 1983, while completing his medical residency in London, he encountered one of the first known cases of HIV in the United Kingdom. “Of course we didn’t call it that then,” he said. “We didn’t know what to call it. My supervisor just said, ‘That guy has pneumonia. A few years later my hospital had the first HIV dedicated ward opened by Princess Diana.”

Originally from the midlands of England, Pozniak’s career eventually took him to Zimbabwe to work on tuberculosis. “We were told by the government that there was no HIV in Zimbabwe,” he said. “But of course that wasn’t the case.”

Pozniak travelled from Africa to San Francisco to attend the 6th International AIDS Conference in San Francisco. Only seven years had passed since seeing his first patient in London and he was amazed at how quickly the HIV field had sprung up to confront the epidemic. “It was very exciting to be in San Francisco,” he recalled. “There was a lot of activism and energy every time you went in and out of the conference.”

Three decades later, as an HIV researcher and the head of Europe’s largest specialized HIV treatment centre, Pozniak still finds the Bay Area exciting. “The science base is enormous,” he said. “They are involved in every aspect of the epidemic, from vaccines to drug development.”

He is particularly encouraged by the dual hosting by Oakland and San Francisco. “San Francisco is a shining example for all cities in the work toward a global response,” he said. “And having the conference in both cities will highlight important issues, especially in Oakland, of the need to expand access to care, roll out pre-exposure prophylaxis and provide sustainable care to black gay men.”

Progress from one conference to the next keeps Pozniak going. “I’m not a gloom and doom guy,” he said, adding that he hopes to see updates on getting more people on treatment, advances in cure and vaccine research and differentiated care to keep people on treatment at AIDS 2020. “I’m very optimistic about the future”.

| Return

Meet your AIDS 2020 Co-chairs

posted on

For each International AIDS Conference, a Conference Coordinating Committee (CCC), comprised of a diverse group of international experts, is appointed. It sets overall conference policies and priorities and ensures that the conference pillars of community, leadership and science are reflected across the agenda. Representing the host cities of Oakland and San Francisco, Cynthia Carey-Grant and Monica Gandhi will join IAS President Anton Pozniak in leading the AIDS 2020 CCC.

Cynthia Carey-Grant, AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, Oakland

Advocate for women, communities of colour, and justice

Cynthia Carey-Grant Cynthia Carey-Grant comes from a long line of nurses. She might have followed the family path, “but I’m squeamish at the sight of blood,” she said. A self-proclaimed child of the 1960s who came of age during the height of the Black Power and women’s empowerment movements, Carey-Grant moved to Oakland more than 20 years ago. 

She first encountered the AIDS epidemic while living in the Southern United States in the 1980s. “This unnamed disease was affecting gay men, especially black gay men,” she said. “And we weren’t yet thinking of the effects on women.”

Carey-Grant has built a career around thinking about women and their access to healthcare. Before entering the field of HIV, she worked at Planned Parenthood and served as Manager for Women’s Health for Northern California at Kaiser Permanente.

In 1994, she travelled to Egypt as part of a non-governmental delegation to the International Conference on Population and Development. The experience she had there, surrounded by women from all corners of the globe and all walks of life, changed her life.

“I learned so much from women who had to make limited resources go very far,” she recalled. She returned home recommitted to reproductive justice, a movement founded on the belief that women should have a choice over what happens to their bodies.

“When I went to Cairo in 1994, we weren’t talking about the high rates of death among African American women in the US or the impact of HIV on African Americans. We weren’t talking about health disparities,” she said. “Black women in the US are still almost 20 times more likely to acquire HIV than a white woman. This disparity has changed very little over a decade and is most impactful on those women who live in the Southern United States.”

As the AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, Oakland, Carey-Grant is excited that women and men in her community, who might not otherwise have the opportunity to travel to an international conference, will have a global forum come to them. “I know what participation has done for me and my growth as a person,” she said.

She is particularly excited that the conference will take place just months before the next presidential elections. “The timing is important for people in the US to have a broader global perspective.”

Monica Gandhi, AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, San Francisco

Global and local clinician

Monica GandhiIn September, the city of San Francisco reviewed new citywide HIV data and announced that there were just 221 new HIV infections over the past year, the lowest number since the epidemic began. Yet instead of celebrating this milestone, advocates, scientists and researchers immediately began to dig into the numbers.

“It led to a deep dive into who was being left out, such as the homeless population of San Francisco,” Monica Gandhi explained. She is an HIV clinician and researcher who moved to the Bay Area for her medical residency in 1996 and never left.

“It’s exciting to be in San Francisco. I have not ever seen this city self-congratulate or pat itself on its back – instead the conversation is always focused on how we can do better, and what we can do to address disparities. I am also really excited about new Oakland/San Francisco connections that will be forged by this meeting.”

This dynamism has paid off: San Francisco is on track to reach zero new HIV infections by 2020, clearing one of its ambitious “Getting to Zero” targets that also seek to eliminate HIV-related death and HIV stigma.

As an Indian American who grew up in Utah, Gandhi is no stranger to stigma. “I experienced a lot of racism growing up,” she said. “I’m motivated by social justice.”

As part of this motivation, she strives to provide quality care to all patients and do what she can to relieve stigma. “I can’t think of many other disease states in the world where a patient is blamed for his or her disease,” she said. “When I’m seeing a new HIV patient, the first thing I say is, ‘This is not your fault and my hope is that everything we do will help HIV become a routine part of your life and not what you think about every day.’ That’s my job as a clinician.”

In addition to directing a large public-health funded medical clinic in San Francisco, Gandhi stays connected to her Indian roots through her research. She travels regularly to Bangalore, where she co-leads a project supported by the US National Institutes of Health. The study examines challenges that patients paying for mid-level private healthcare face in staying on HIV treatment. “Stigma infiltrates every aspect of HIV in India,” she noted.

As the AIDS 2020 Local Co-chair, San Francisco, Gandhi looks forward to hosting the global community in the Bay Area. She describes it as a place that “resists bad policies” and “a place of comfort” to those disheartened by national politics in the US. “I hope this place can provide international delegates a place to think creatively about disparities and how to address that we still have “Miles to Go” before we rest.  There is no question in my mind that we will eventually get there, but there is still work to be done.”

Anton Pozniak, AIDS 2020 International Chair

International scientist, researcher and optimist

Anton PozniakAnton Pozniak attended his first International AIDS Conference in San Francisco in 1990. Thirty years later, he will return to the Bay Area as IAS President and International Chair of the conference.

Pozniak has been involved in the HIV field from the earliest days of the epidemic. In 1983, while completing his medical residency in London, he encountered one of the first known cases of HIV in the United Kingdom. “Of course we didn’t call it that then,” he said. “We didn’t know what to call it. My supervisor just said, ‘That guy has pneumonia. A few years later my hospital had the first HIV dedicated ward opened by Princess Diana.”

Originally from the midlands of England, Pozniak’s career eventually took him to Zimbabwe to work on tuberculosis. “We were told by the government that there was no HIV in Zimbabwe,” he said. “But of course that wasn’t the case.”

Pozniak travelled from Africa to San Francisco to attend the 6th International AIDS Conference in San Francisco. Only seven years had passed since seeing his first patient in London and he was amazed at how quickly the HIV field had sprung up to confront the epidemic. “It was very exciting to be in San Francisco,” he recalled. “There was a lot of activism and energy every time you went in and out of the conference.”

Three decades later, as an HIV researcher and the head of Europe’s largest specialized HIV treatment centre, Pozniak still finds the Bay Area exciting. “The science base is enormous,” he said. “They are involved in every aspect of the epidemic, from vaccines to drug development.”

He is particularly encouraged by the dual hosting by Oakland and San Francisco. “San Francisco is a shining example for all cities in the work toward a global response,” he said. “And having the conference in both cities will highlight important issues, especially in Oakland, of the need to expand access to care, roll out pre-exposure prophylaxis and provide sustainable care to black gay men.”

Progress from one conference to the next keeps Pozniak going. “I’m not a gloom and doom guy,” he said, adding that he hopes to see updates on getting more people on treatment, advances in cure and vaccine research and differentiated care to keep people on treatment at AIDS 2020. “I’m very optimistic about the future”.

| Return

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