HIV/AIDS experts from five continents across the world will be in Cape Town, South Africa, from 13-15 November 2017 to probe the dynamics of a changing HIV/AIDS epidemic and to address issues related to prevention, treatment and care. The experts will be participating in the 13th AIDS Impact Conference, which is hosted by Stellenbosch University (SU) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).
The behavioural and psychosocial science gathering — which was first convened in 1991 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands — is an international dialogue that looks at the human face of the epidemic.
“Despite the vast importance of medical inquiry and advancements in the fight against HIV, attending to the humanitarian and social 'face' of the epidemic are invaluable," explained Dr Sarah Skeen of Stellenbosch University, co-chair of the conference.
The HSRC's Professor Heidi van Rooyen, who is a co-chair of the conference added that, “If we are to stem the epidemic in Africa, then addressing poverty, gender inequality and gender-based violence, which fuel the spread of HIV among vulnerable populations, requires our urgent attention."
Continuing from where the 2015 meeting ended, the 2017 Cape Town conference, titled 'What will it take to end the epidemic?' aims to promote pioneering work on understanding the dynamics of a changing epidemic, with a key focus on the latest avenues for prevention, treatment and care.
The meeting will bring together delegates from 54 countries who are new to the field, as well as seasoned researchers, prevention workers, community members, policy makers, and other key stakeholders from universities, institutes, and organisations around the globe.
Among the speakers will be Professor Fred Ssewamala, Director of the International Center for Child Health and Asset Development at Columbia University. His plenary will address Cost-effectiveness of Savings-led Economic Empowerment Interventions for AIDS-Impacted Children, and their impact on adolescent's health, material wellbeing and adherence to ART medication (for those who are HIV positive). Professor Linda Richter, a Distinguished Professor and Director of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, will be discussing the relevance of the values underlying the Sustainable Development Goals.
Delegates will share multidisciplinary understanding, state of the art research, international good practice – and a deep understanding of the importance of the human experience in all aspects of HIV prevention, treatment and care. “If we forget the human face behind the epidemic the virus will triumph – if we grasp the needs of humanity we can pinpoint a turning point in the journey to eradicate AIDS," says Professor Lorraine Sherr of the International Scientific Board.
The AIDS Impact Conference is held bienially and is one of the leading platforms for understanding, updating and debating the behavioural, psychosocial and community facets of HIV in light of changing social conditions and medical advances. This year, the conference organisational team, led by Prof Mark Tomlinson and Dr Sarah Skeen of SU and Prof Heidi van Rooyen and Ms Bridgette Prince from the HSRC, anticipate delegates from 54 countries.
The plenary session will include speakers from leading institutions such as the International Center for Child Health and Asset Development at Columbia University; the Carolina Population Center; the University of the Witwatersrand; the School of Public Health & Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town; the Division of Prevention Science in the Department of Medicine at the University of California; the University of New York; the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen; the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC); and the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at University College London as well as activists and voices from those with HIV.
The Conference will be hosted at the newly developed Century City Conference Centre located near the Cape Town CBD.
About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa's statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent. It does cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.
The HSRC's mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.
The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa's national development priorities.
About Stellenbosch University (SU)
Stellenbosch University (SU), celebrating its centenary in 2018, is one of the oldest universities in South Africa. With its 10 faculties (AgriSciences, Economic and Management Sciences, Medicine and Health Sciences, Engineering, Military Sciences, Arts and Social Sciences, Science, Education, Law and Theology), it boasts the highest weighted research output per full-time academic staff member of all South African universities and the second-highest number of scientists in South Africa who have been ranked by the National Research Foundation (NRF) – 429 in 2017.
With 24 research chairs under the NRF's South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChi) and seven Centres of Excellence, the University is regarded as a leader in the fields of biomedical tuberculosis research and management, wine biotechnology, water research, sustainable energy, animal sciences, and mathematical biosciences, amongst others.
As preferred research partner, SU also participates in various international academic networks. The institution has over 150 bilateral partners in 44 countries on 6 continents and more than 4 300 international students from more than 100 different nationalities.