Ahead of “AIDS 2020: Virtual” Conference, AHF Calls for Transparency and Accountability in Global Public Health

In Global Advocacy, Global Featured by Fiona Ip

Ahead of the first-ever fully virtual International AIDS Conference set to take place on July 6-10 during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) calls on the global public health community and world leaders not to abandon the fight against AIDS, genuinely commit to fundamental reforms of the global public health security framework, and defend access to lifesaving medicines for people everywhere against Big Pharma greed.

“Sadly the world is now paying the price for letting so many warning signs about an impending public health crisis go unheeded, without a unified plan of action, nor leadership that is ready and willing to rise to the occasion and defend humanity against COVID-19,” said Michael Weinstein, AHF President. “Protecting public health is a sacred trust. To ensure hundreds of thousands of people didn’t die in vain because of cover-ups, delays and corruption, we must singularly commit ourselves to demanding transparency and accountability in all aspects of global health, so that we don’t continue repeating the mistakes of this profound tragedy over and over again.”

AHF’s presence at AIDS 2020: Virtual, as this year’s conference has been called, will focus on driving advocacy efforts to protect gains that have been made in the global fight on AIDS while calling for reforms in how the world responds to pandemics. There will also be a spotlight on Gilead Sciences’ profiteering from COVID-19 by price gouging remdesivir during a public health emergency, a drug that has been shown to speed up recovery in critically ill coronavirus patients. Read AHF’s recent statement on Gilead’s “war profiteering” here.

The conference activities will include an exhibition booth with live chat, a booth at the so-called Global Village community space featuring youth leaders from the innovative Girls Act! empowerment campaign, a scientific program featuring a dozen research posters, and three satellite panels with participation by leading thinkers in global public health.

The satellite panels will take place on the following dates and times:

Monday, July 6

AIDS—The Forgotten Pandemic

Live at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. PDT, with a recorded replay at 11 p.m. – 12 a.m. PDT


Dr. Adele Schwartz Benzaken – Moderator

Senior Global Medical Director, AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Former Director of the Department of STI, HIV/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis, Ministry of Health of Brazil


Dr. Angeli Achrekar

Principal Deputy US Global AIDS Coordinator, US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)

Laurie Garrett Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, and Bestselling Author of “I Heard the Sirens Scream”, “The Coming Plague” and “Ebola & Betrayal of Trust”.


Dr. Lucica Ditiu

Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership


Allan Maleche

‘Executive Director, Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN)

Former Chair, Implementer Group, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria


Dr. Ricardo Baptista Leite

Member of Parliament – Portugal

Founder and President of UNITE Global network of Parliamentarians Committed to Ending Infectious Diseases


Dr. Jorge Saavedra

Executive Director of the AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami

Former Head of the National AIDS Program of Mexico



Tuesday, July 7

Digital Marketing Mania

Live at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. PDT, with a recorded replay at 11 p.m. – 12 a.m. PDT


Oluwakemi Gbadamosi – Moderator

Senior Manager for Public Relations and Communications, AHF Africa Bureau


Carmella Vong

Account Strategist, Google


Zach Milewski

Account Strategist, Google


John Nguyen

Associate Director, Global Web Development & Data Analytics, AHF


Raif Derrazi

HIV+ Bodybuilder & Influencer


Valerie Hernández

Digital Strategist & Project Manager, Pairus Digital Agency


Steve Levin

Co-founder, Commando LLC



Wednesday, July 8

Transgender Challenges Around the World

Live at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. PDT, with a recorded replay at 11 p.m. – 12 a.m. PDT


Queen Victoria Ortega – Moderator

President of FLUX, and Transgender Rights Advocate


Laith Ashley

Actor, Model and Influencer


Dr. Christiaan Kier

Professor of Rehabilitation Therapy, California State University, Los Angeles


Anjali Rimi Koka

President, Parivar Bay Area


Chela Demuir

Founder, Unique Woman’s Coalition


Maya Jafer

Actress and Activist


The satellite panels and other conference activities will be accessible via the official AIDS 2020 website. A paid conference registration is required to participate, except for the Global Village, which is open to the public. Additional details about AHF’s program of participation in AIDS 2020: Virtual are available at https://ahf-iac.org


“We have lost human contact and grassroots advocacy in AIDS 2020, but we are still coming to this virtual conference with an advocacy mindset and a sense of urgency, because the world is seeing first-hand what happens when we ignore public health or it gets sidelined by politics and profit motives – people die, and they die everywhere irrespective of border restrictions,” said Terri Ford, AHF Chief of Global Advocacy Policy. “We want to remind the world, AIDS is not over, COVID-19 is tragic and needs a comprehensive response plan and a leadership overhaul, but we must not abandon one pandemic while we take on another – every single year over 700,000 people still die of AIDS-related illnesses and 1.7 million become newly infected, while millions still don’t have access to treatment. This is far from over and we must not forget the lessons learned over the past 30 years!”

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