From July 22 to 27, 2012, Washington, DC will host the nineteenth international AIDS conference, known as AIDS 2012 . Since the first international AIDS conference was organized in Atlanta in 1985, the sessions have evolved from modestly-sized gatherings of scientists meeting to discuss research questions over a few days to week-long conventions attracting over 20,000 participants, including heads of state, celebrities, activists, journalists, philanthropists, researchers, and people living with HIV/AIDS. Today the international AIDS conferences, organized by the Geneva-based International AIDS Society (IAS), are the largest meetings devoted to a single global health topic in the world. The AIDS 2012 conference theme, “Turning the Tide Together,” reflects organizers’ recognition that in 2012 the global AIDS community finds itself at a unique juncture: research advances have made it possible to envision an end to the epidemic at the precise moment when funding challenges threaten to slow progress on scientific discovery and program implementation.
Although the conference was held in the U.S. three times between 1985 and 1990, it has been 22 years since the meeting was held on U.S. soil. In 1987 HIV/AIDS was added to the list of infectious diseases that could prevent a traveler from receiving a U.S. entry visa. Following protests over the visa exclusions at the 1990 international AIDS conference in San Francisco, meeting organizers agreed that future sessions would not be held in the U.S. as long as HIV infected travelers were not welcome. President Obama’s October 2009 lifting of the HIV “immigration ban” paved the way for a U.S.-hosted meeting for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century.
This course will look at the history of the International AIDS Conference as well as the significance and major outcomes of AIDS2012.