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Lessons in legacy: International Aids Society

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Related topics: Legacy & advocacy

The Incredible Impacts Programme celebrates the “beyond tourism” value of international association meetings to create a powerful platform to advocate their positive societal impact. A panel of independent judges from the association world each year determines which meetings have proven impact to award three grants of USD 7,500 on behalf of BestCities Global Alliance and ICCA.

In 2019, the European Lung Foundation won one of the three grants.

International AIDS Society

The International AIDS Society (IAS) leads collective action on every front of the global HIV response through its membership base, scientific authority and convening power.  Founded in 1988[SA1] , the IAS is the world’s largest association of HIV professionals, with members in more than 170 countries. Working with its members, the IAS advocates and drives urgent action to reduce the impact of HIV.

The IAS is also 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. The International AIDS Conference is the premier global platform to advance the HIV response. As the world’s largest conference on HIV and AIDS, it sits uniquely at the intersection of science, advocacy and human rights, bringing together scientists, policy makers, healthcare professionals, people living with HIV, funders, media and community. Since its start in 1985, the conference continues to serve as an opportunity to strengthen policies and programmes that ensure an evidence-based response to HIV and related epidemics.

Their Incredible Impact

The IAS’ is committed to ensuring scholarships are accessible to participants from resource-limited settings. Each year see junior investigators, young people, key and vulnerable populations, activists, healthcare workers, civil society representatives and media among their 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. 

Scholarship recipients have access to a tailored programme including networking events, Knowledge Toolkit demonstrations in multiple languages, career advice and mentoring sessions with experts in the field.

Outcomes

Since 2010, 4,855 scholarships have been awarded, 15 per cent of which were to participants aged 26 or under. These scholarships provided opportunities for recipients to access an informed global network of professionals from 170 countries working at all levels of the HIV response.

Testimonies from young attendees include Peter Garang Ngor, a scholarship recipient from South Sudan, whose participation in AIDS 2018 enabled his organization to grow.

Peter Garang Ngor, youth advocate for health, said:  “My attendance was of such significance because last year I was the only representative from Civil Societies Organizations in South Sudan. The knowledge, experience and network I built speaks volumes to my authenticity and that of my organization. After AIDS 2018, we grew from being a local youth led organization to national youth led Initiative with strong advocacy voice and we initiated, in conjunction with colleague from Kenya, the first ever in South Sudan Mobile application called TPP mobile Info App that brings HIV and AIDS information closer to young people using technology.” 

Mr Ngor added: “Most importantly, because of my attendance, I am now part of prestigious fellowship in United States called Mandela Washington Fellowship that brings 700 young African leaders from 49 Countries of Sub-Saharan African.” 

Intentions for Grant Money

The ICCA grant will allow the IAS to expand its reach by funding the translation of video tutorials for scholarship application into Spanish and Russian. This would overcome a problematic language barrier in the process for potential scholarship applicants. 

The grant amount also represents the cost of at least two full scholarships (including registration, travel, accommodation and daily living allowance) to the 23rd International AIDS Conference - known as AIDS 2020 - in San Francisco and Oakland in July 2020.

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