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Annual Letter 2024

Annual Letter

Slipping away? The path towards meeting the SDGs

Slipping away? The path towards meeting the SDGs

We are more than halfway to the 2030 deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include ending AIDS as a public health threat. Achievements have been significant, but so are the challenges that remain on the road ahead.

As the 2023 UNAIDS Global AIDS Update states, the path to achieving the SDGs and ending the HIV pandemic is not a mystery but a choice. Achieving the SDGs, however, requires a fully funded and targeted response. Not least, the abortion debate in the US surrounding PEPFAR’s reauthorization and the upcoming US election cycle could have significant implications for financing and political commitment towards the HIV response.

Data is from the 2023 UNAIDS Global AIDS Update

Against this backdrop, below are some of the key areas around which the IAS will convene, advocate and educate this year. All of our activities seek to pool the power of science, policy and activism because this is how we, together, will end the HIV pandemic as a threat to public health and individual well-being. 

The path to achieving the SDGs and ending the HIV pandemic is not a mystery but a choice.

Advancing prevention

Effective prevention is the key to ending the AIDS pandemic, but prevention efforts are at a critical juncture. While we have seen exciting new prevention tools being rolled out, they have not been reflected in a large enough decrease in HIV incidence. We have also suffered setbacks in our quest for an HIV vaccine, with funding for HIV preventative vaccine R&D dropping globally – and drastically in Europe.

We intend to focus minds on prevention at AIDS 2024, the 25th International AIDS Conference, in Munich, Germany, and virtually from 22 to 26 July and at HIVR4P 2024, the 5th HIV Research for Prevention Conference, in Lima, Peru, and virtually from 6 to 10 October. We will also continue our work on a roadmap for an effective and scalable HIV vaccine via the IAS Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, with a focus on collaborating with stakeholders and scientists from the African continent in 2024.

IAS conference

Promoting the latest research

Besides the IAS making the latest science available at our conferences, the Journal of the International AIDS Society (JIAS) publishes research in areas that require urgent action. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, JIAS will launch three supplements at AIDS 2024: “Implementation research and the HIV response: Taking stock and charting the way forward”; “Re-shaping landscapes to support embedded programme science to improve population-level impact for HIV and sexually transmitted infections programming: A call for transformative action”; and “The HIV epidemic in eastern Europe and central Asia: challenges and opportunities”.

We also continue to push for research in paediatric HIV to close the knowledge gaps that, worryingly, remain for this most vulnerable population group. The Collaborative Initiative for Paediatric HIV Education and Research (CIPHER) will update the global research agenda for paediatric HIV and the global research agenda for adolescents living with HIV by the end of the year.

Uniting the HIV response

The International AIDS Conference – still the largest gathering of people living with, affected by and working on HIV in the world – best exemplifies the IAS mantra that progress happens when science, policy and activism come together. Some 15,000 people from all over the world are expected to attend AIDS 2024, nearly half from low- and middle-income countries.

Munich’s proximity to eastern Europe will allow us to spotlight the growing HIV epidemic in the region, and we expect a sizable delegation from this part of the world. We will address structural barriers hindering service uptake, including human rights infringements and the impact of the war in Ukraine.

Beyond the conference, the IAS uses the same unifying approach throughout its programmes and activities.

Some 15,000 people from all over the world are expected to attend AIDS 2024, nearly half from low- and middle-income countries.

Upholding human rights and putting people first

By every available measure, human rights have deteriorated across much of the world over the past two decades. Recent examples are a widespread attack on LGBTQ rights, including harsh laws being passed in Uganda, and the overturning of abortion rights (Roe v Wade) in the US.

In a world plagued by inequity, putting people first across all aspects of the HIV response is not just a moral imperative but the only viable route to progress. Whether in the design of clinical trials, the formulation of policies or any other aspect of our efforts, people living with and affected by HIV must be not just beneficiaries but actors driving our efforts.

The IAS–Lancet Commission on Health and Human Rights will this year release actionable recommendations in eight domains, aiming to renew and update the paradigm of health and human rights.

Via our Heart of Stigma programme, the IAS will develop a self-assessment tool for countries to track progress, a webinar series and peer-to-peer learning exchange visits to eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination. If your healthcare provider is delivering stigma-free HIV services, you can nominate them as a champion in our Me and My Healthcare Provider Campaign.

In a world plagued by inequity, putting people first across all aspects of the HIV response is not just a moral imperative but the only viable route to progress.

IAS 2023 Educational Tour

Integrating services

If recent debates – be it at IAS 2023, the 12th IAS Conference on HIV Science, in Brisbane or the High-Level Meetings at last year’s UN General Assembly – are anything to go by, evidence demands that the HIV response abandon siloed programming for integrated services that meet a range of health needs of people living with HIV.

The IAS Differentiated Service Delivery (DSD) programme will convene a pre-conference at AIDS 2024 on DSD for HIV and integration, and the Community-Led Monitoring (CLM) programme will host a pre-conference to support CLM implementers and advocates in ensuring good-quality HIV and TB services.

The theme of integrated services is often complemented by a strong emphasis on person-centred care. In 2024, the Person-Centred Care (PCC) programme will publish an expert consensus statement to help policy makers and providers improve health service quality and accessibility globally. PCC advocacy academies in Africa and Asia will strengthen the capacity of professionals working to deliver person-centred care.

Improving access

As global inequities grow, so does the challenge of access to care, knowledge and resources – without which the HIV response is bound to fail.  

To ensure that the knowledge shared at our conferences reaches not just those able to access it, the IAS Educational Fund will hold free, local language meetings in Burundi, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tunisia, as well as the Caribbean and eastern Europe and central Asia regions. These meetings convene local stakeholders to critically examine the latest science, resources and know-how against local needs and develop action plans to improve the HIV response in their regions.

AIDS 2024 and HIVR4P 2024 will once again provide support for thousands, who could otherwise not afford it, to attend. Find out more here. As always, the International AIDS Conference Global Village, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, will be free and open to the public.

Beyond attending an IAS conference, there are many ways to engage with the IAS and become an IAS change maker across our range of fellowship, grant, mentorship and scholarship opportunities.

To make our resources available for everyone, our new knowledge platform, IAS+, hosts all IAS digital content, including e-learning courses. You will be able to access everything on our conference platform on IAS+ two months after each conference for free (and just one month if you are an IAS Member).


Get involved in 2024

As we strive towards realizing our shared vision, consider participating in the IAS Governing Council elections from January to May 2024. The Governing Council, the thought leadership body of the IAS, welcomes new members to guide our work and represent regional interests.

Thank you for everything you do to support us in galvanizing the scientific response, building global solidarity and enhancing human dignity for all those living with and affected by HIV.

We look forward to working with you in 2024 and getting our progress towards the SDGs back on track.

Sharon LewinSignature
Sharon Lewin

President, IAS

Birgit PoniatowskiSignature
Birgit Poniatowski

Executive Director, IAS

Cover photo (left): © Isabel Corthier/MSF

The IAS promotes the use of non-stigmatizing, people-first language. The translations are all automated in the interest of making our content as widely accessible as possible. Regretfully, they may not always adhere to the people-first language of the original version.