Sophie Andriol, Project Manager, Scholarships - introducing her association
1. When was your association founded?
2. Where is your association based, how many members do you have & in how many countries?
- Geneva, Switzerland.
- 12,000 members from more than 170 countries.
3. Who are your members?
Policymakers and clinicians, peer navigators and clients, researchers and community advocates.
4. What is your mission & aim of the association?
The mission of the International AIDS Society is to lead collective action on every front of the global HIV response through its membership base, scientific authority and convening power.
5. What are the major challenges facing your association?
- Major gaps in national health systems and access to HIV programmes despite improving economic conditions in many regions.
- The overall funding levels for HIV prevention research and development have remained largely static for the past decade.
- Despite a growing list of proven-effective HIV prevention interventions, implementation and scale up lag years behind discovery and regulatory approval.
- Stigma and discrimination remain persistent barriers to access for many people and impede implementation of evidence-based programmes.
- In almost 40 years since the epidemic began, the general public has moved from fear to activism to apathy.
6. What kind of events are organised by your association?
The IAS is the steward of the world’s most prestigious HIV conferences: the International AIDS Conference, the IAS Conference on HIV Science and the HIV Research for Prevention Conference.
In addition, the IAS, through the IAS Educational Fund, convenes smaller meetings around the world targeted at healthcare workers, advocates and policymakers to provide access to the latest science and opportunities to question how that information impacts local epidemics.
7. What is the decision process behind the selection of a destination/venue?
To find the best host for each International AIDS Conference, the IAS conducts an extensive, open-bid process that begins 18 months before a decision is made. For the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020), the IAS engaged more than 20 cities across the world, starting in 2016.
The process involves an extensive evaluation that determines each city’s ability to house the meeting and its delegates, commitment to supporting scientific research and implementation, and inclusion of civil society and communities living with HIV in their local response. Each city is required to represent a cross-section of policy makers, scientific researchers and civil society as part of the bid.
8. Can you share your insights about the latest trends within the association community?
The IAS membership is getting older and therefore the IAS is trying to actively engage young IAS Members, who are young researchers, people living with HIV and/or are part of key populations. The aim is to form and invest in the next generation of activists and scientists.
9. What does your association do in terms of legacy, do your meetings have a societal impact on the destination?
The IAS is committed to ensuring conference scholarships are accessible to participants from resource-limited settings. Each year sees junior investigators, young people, key and vulnerable populations, activists, healthcare workers, civil society representatives and media among the scholarship award priorities. In prioritising these groups, the IAS creates pathways for the direct dissemination of scientific knowledge and best practice from its conferences to local programmes and individuals in communities where it can be actively, effectively and impactfully implemented.
Within this balanced pool of scholarships, additional emphasis is placed on first-time attendees and the selection of young people, from the age of 15 up, who are active in the HIV response. This guiding criterion empowers these participants with state-of-the-art knowledge and tools to act as change agents.
The IAS also has a Local Charitable Giving Programme which financially supports a local project each year in the city that is hosting the International AIDS Conference and the IAS Conference on HIV Science.
For each conference, a request for proposal is published on the conference website to enable interested local organizations or programmes working on the frontlines of the HIV response to bid. The local office and partner(s) are invited to suggest organizations that could be interesting in bidding.
Delegates have the option to contribute to the programme through the registration process. Delegates can choose an amount to donate by ticking a box on the registration form (US$5, $15, $25 or $50). The funds collected are transferred to the organization or programme after the conference.
Additionally, throughout the conference the IAS leads Engagement Tours to provide delegates with unique learning experiences through interactive site visits to local community-based organizations. The goal is to exchange knowledge, best practices, successes, challenges, and innovative solutions through dialogue and hands-on activities. Long term collaborations have been forged through the Engagement Tours as delegates seek to replicate successful interventions in their local communities.
10. Are you looking to forge collaborations with other associations? If so in what areas of expertise?
The IAS is interested in collaborating with other associations of health professionals, such as nurses.
For more information on IAS please check their website: www.iasociety.org