AIDS2020, the 23rd International AIDS Conference, is projected to be one of the largest international AIDS conferences in the world, however opposition to the choice of San Francisco, California as the conference location has resulted in major opposition from many NGOs and civil society groups that have consistently been targeted by the current U.S. administration’s conservative agenda.1 In response to AIDS2020’s exclusion of valuable community voices, a coalition of grassroots organizers created HIV2020 – an alternative convening for individuals who are either unable or unwilling to attend the San Francisco conference.2 The HIV2020 conference will be held in Mexico City and programming will run concurrently with AIDS2020 in July of next year.2
As a result of the approaching 2020 conference dates, the schism between the two conferences continues to intensify as each coalition attempts to garner additional support from the public. Although AIDS2020 enjoys a large donor base and the privilege of advertising across multiple platforms, HIV2020’s provoking community-first message seems to be gaining momentum as a growing number of human rights organizations rally behind the HIV2020 Alliance – with one of the newest supporters being UNAIDS.3,4
Earlier this month, UNAIDS released an official letter in support of HIV2020’s inclusivity and community-led programming.3 In the letter UNAIDS claimed that the Joint UN Programme and the HIV2020 organizing committee share “the main goal of..ensur[ing] a safe space for communities as defined by communities.”3 Although UNAIDS’ open support of HIV2020 greatly highlights the importance of civil society in the next phase of the global AIDS response, true support of this conference will require UNAIDS to offer more than goodwill and one instance of publicity. As a permanent partner of AIDS2020, UNAIDS is complicit in the exclusion of vulnerable communities that sparked the need for an alternative conference in the first place.3 The support that UNAIDS continues to provide AIDS2020 actively prioritizes privilege over community, and therefore undercuts the authenticity of UNAIDS’ support of HIV2020. Although UNAIDS’ open recognition and praise of the community-led HIV2020 conference is positive and hopeful, UNAIDS must go beyond rhetorical messages to display a true commitment to HIV2020 and the vulnerable communities that the conference represents.
- Davids, JD. U.S. Networks of People with HIV Oppose U.S. Location for 2020 International AIDS Conference. (2018, March 13). Retrieved from https://www.thebody.com/article/us-networks-of-people-with-hiv-oppose-us-location-
- Advocates Unite to Plan an Alternative to AIDS 2020. (2019, August 6). Retrieved from https://www.poz.com/article/advocates-unite-plan-alternative-aids-2020
- UNAIDS Expresses Support for HIV2020 Conference. (2019, September 6). Retrieved from https://mpactglobal.org/unaids-expresses-support-for-hiv2020-conference/
- Straube, Trenton. Support for HIV2020 in Mexico City Continues to Grow. (2019, September 20). Retrieved from https://www.poz.com/article/support-hiv2020-mexico-city-continues-grow