Citing Trump Policies, Activists Want AIDS 2020 Conference Moved Out of U.S.

Gina Brown of the Southern AIDS Coalition (left) and Charles King of Housing Works protest the AIDS 2020 conference location while attending AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Sean Black for A&U

A group of advocates at this week's International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is calling for the next conference -- scheduled for July 2020 in San Francisco and Oakland, California -- to be moved out of the U.S. entirely. The activists cite current U.S. policies that prohibit the entry of sex workers, people who use drugs, and citizens of several majority Muslim countries. Trump administration policies and pronouncements have also contributed to a hostile climate for LGBTQ people, immigrants, and people of color, activists argue.

"A U.S.-based conference during a politicized election year will be inaccessible and will expose our communities to grave harm," said Cecilia Chung, the senior director of strategic projects for Transgender Law Center, in a press release from Positive Women's Network-USA (PWN-USA).

The San Francisco Bay Area is also one of the most expensive places in the world, making conference attendance impossible to afford for many community advocates and other populations impacted by HIV, protest organizers point out.

After the location of the 2020 International AIDS Conference was announced earlier this year, a number of U.S.-based HIV activists spoke out against holding the event there. To date, a statement calling on the International AIDS Society, the conference organizer, to change the location has been signed by more than 100 organizations and individuals. Activists are also holding protests at the Amsterdam conference:

Some AIDS 2018 conference speakers, such as Naina Khanna, the executive director of PWN-USA, are wearing "No AIDS 2020 in Trump's USA" stickers. During the opening plenary session, Robert Suttle, the assistant director of the HIV advocacy organization Sero, received a standing ovation for his call from the stage to move the 2020 conference. Advocates supporting the effort have adopted the Twitter hashtag #AIDS2020ForAll.