AIDS Conference Is Ramping Up
July 18, 2006
In Toronto, organizers for next month's 16th International AIDS Conference are expecting so many attendees that registration will be closing soon. With registration now approaching 25,000 people, about 9,000 more attendees are expected than were at the Bangkok 2004 and Barcelona 2002 conferences, said organizers.
"The conference expects to close registration early because response from our own country and around the world is so positive," said Darryl Perry, executive director of the AIDS 2006 Toronto Local Host Secretariat. "We fully expect this will be possibly the largest ever."
Michaelle Jean, Canada's governor-general, will open the conference at a Sunday gala at Rogers Center, where celebrity rock stars will entertain the international dignitaries.
The conference, being held at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, will host the world's senior HIV/AIDS scientists, physicians, patients and advocates. Event organizers are also expecting nearly 3,000 journalists, 3,000 volunteers and 1,000 exhibitors.
Bill & Melinda Gates, co-chairpersons of the foundation that bears their names, are expected; Bill Gates is to give the keynote address. Former President Bill Clinton will also attend.
A task force including the host committee and Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (CHALN) successfully lobbied immigration officials to change short-term visa applications to omit HIV serostatus questions. Citizenship and Immigration Canada changed the temporary resident visa application in May 2005, said the agency's Marina Wilson. Disclosure of TB infection is still required on visas, she said.
"This is an important change that'll benefit people coming to the conference, and it's a lasting change we are very proud of," said Perry. "We're talking about people coming to Canada on a short-term basis," said Richard Elliott, CHALN's deputy director. "We don't need to know their serostatus."
07.15.06; Tanya Talaga
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.