Volunteer at AIDS 2020

The International AIDS Conference is the largest conference on any global health or development issue. The exciting event offers volunteers the opportunity to gain top-level international experience.

The 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020) will be held in Oakland and San Francisco, US, on 6-10 July 2020 and is expected to bring together some 20,000 delegates from around the world. This year, the International AIDS Society is inviting about 800 volunteers to participate in AIDS 2020, working with us in Oakland and San Francisco from 1 to 10 July 2020.

Whether you are interested in knowing more about HIV- and AIDS-related issues, sharing experiences and being inspired by people from different backgrounds or simply enjoy lending a helping hand, the success of AIDS 2020 depends heavily on you.


Volunteers’ duties and benefits

Volunteers help coordinate programme activities, greet visiting delegates, assist with registration, act as guides during the conference, staff various offices and activities, and perform other crucial tasks. The AIDS 2020 Volunteer Programme team will provide training and support prior to the start of the event.

Volunteers receive free access to conference sessions when not on duty, and lunch each working day. They will also receive a certificate of appreciation. Volunteers who complete their mission are offered free one-year membership of the International AIDS Society.

Volunteers must be over 18 years old and available for at least three half-day shifts on three consecutive days during the conference period, as well as for the mandatory kick-off meeting on Friday, 3 July 2020 (to be confirmed). Applicants will be invited to provide details about their availability and activity preferences when filling in the volunteer application form.

Volunteer application

The AIDS 2020 Volunteer Programme team invites anyone who is interested in volunteering to apply as soon as possible on this page after applications open on 20 February 2020.

Applicants with the maximum availability will receive priority. If the application is selected, the volunteer applicant will receive a proposal and will be invited to confirm the proposed schedule and activity.

Volunteers from other countries

Volunteers from countries other than the US seeking to volunteer at AIDS 2020 will be required to meet US customs and immigration requirements for visitors.

The Conference Secretariat is unfortunately not able to offer any financial assistance; it is the sole responsibility of each volunteer to make their own visa arrangements. Volunteers are responsible for their own accommodation and travel costs.

Join the Volunteer Programme

A few words from Brooke, volunteer from the US

I remember the first time I heard of an acquaintance who died because of HIV/AIDS. It was in 1981. He was a psychiatric technician at a state hospital for the developmentally disabled. He had previously been an Ice Capades dancer. Back then, this condition wasn’t even called AIDS. It was called GRID, which means gay-related immune deficiency. All that people knew back then was that it was a terrible disease that was killing gay men. In September 1982, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) started calling it AIDS. Throughout the years, I have come into contact with HIV and AIDS in many places, with many friends – both survivors and those who succumbed – and in many contexts. My husband and I rode bicycles from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for AIDS services in California. We served in the Peace Corps, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, during the height of an AIDS denialist president, and also during the introduction of antiretroviral medication to sub-Saharan Africa. I have been visiting an HIV-positive transgender woman asylum seeker from El Salvador, who is being held at a detention centre outside San Diego, California.

I have seen the sadness, despair, fear, trauma, stigma and death caused by AIDS. But, I have also started witnessing the seeds of hope – when treatment started saving lives, when transmission from mother to child has been practically eliminated from this world, when harm reduction strategies help prevent the spread of AIDS in marginalized communities, and when scientific progress is made.

Being a part of the AIDS community as a volunteer at the International AIDS Conferences and IAS Conferences on HIV Science gives me hope for the future. I started volunteering as a Session Room Monitor in Washington DC in 2012. Since then I have volunteered in Melbourne (2014), Durban (2016), Amsterdam (2018), Mexico City (2019) and am looking forward to San Francisco/Oakland (2020) and Berlin (2021). This event has become a home for me, and the people who I meet up with year after year have become a family. The scientific advances, activism and progress have become a beacon of hope.

The most powerful positive impact of the conference for me is meeting so many wonderful young people who are becoming doctors, researchers, social workers, therapists and other professionals who will be on the frontlines to tackle and eliminate this epidemic. It is their enthusiasm and spirit that keeps me coming back. Please come and join us as a volunteer. You will not regret it!

A few words from Joyce, volunteer from South Africa

My first experience as a volunteer was at AIDS 2016 in Durban, in my home country As a peer educator and teacher attending the South African AIDS Conference in 2015, I saw the need to volunteer to learn about new developments.
I was impressed by the number of volunteers from around the globe who are so passionate about making a change in other people’s lives. As a volunteer, you gain a lot of knowledge by attending sessions before or after your shift. Volunteering also benefits people connected to volunteers as we become more confident about engaging in issues on HIV without fear of discrimination.
I also volunteered at AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam and IAS 2019 in Mexico City. At first in Mexico City, I was scared because of the language barrier and because I was the only South African volunteer, but the love, respect and assistance I have received from fellow volunteers have been beyond my expectations.
In 2018, I even planned my trip so I could attend pre-conference sessions before the main conference.
As a volunteer, I have found new friends who have become part of my family. I strongly recommend that join the AIDS 2020 Volunteer Programme. I can’t wait to see you in San Francisco and Oakland!