Clark team at AIDS 2010 in Vienna

AIDS 2010 logoClark University scholars are participants at the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) in Vienna (July 18 to 23). The theme of the conference, which is expected to draw more than 25,000 attendees, is “Rights Here, Right Now.” Convened by the International AIDS Society, the biennial international conference gathers researchers, implementers and diverse leaders involved in the global response to HIV.

The Clark contingent to Vienna includes key members of a United Nations initiative known as aids2031, a global consortium of partners who have come together to look at what we have learned about the AIDS response as well as consider the implications of the changing world around AIDS.

Supported by grants of approximately $4 million, Clark hosts the aids2031 coordination unit, led by Heidi Larson, executive director of the aids2031 project and associate research professor of International Development and Social Change. Clark also leads the project’s Social Drivers Group, which examines key social, political and economic factors that drive the AIDS epidemic. William Fisher, director of the International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE) Department at Clark, leads this working group.  Anne Hendrixson, assistant director of aids2031 and Clark graduate (IDSC/M.A. '07), also will attend the Vienna conference, along with Clark alumna Carly Edwards (IDSC/M.A. '10).

“The work of the Social Drivers Group convincingly demonstrates that we have the resources and the knowledge to mount a truly transformative response to HIV and AIDS.” ~ William Fisher, Director, IDCE

The Social Drivers Group of aids2031 will moderate “Revolutionizing the AIDS Response by Addressing Social Drivers,” a conversation among experts about how to address the social drivers and structural factors in the long-term response to the AIDS epidemic, in a satellite session of the AIDS 2010 conference, on Thursday, July 22, 

The Vienna AIDS 2010 conference organizers write: “With a global economic crisis threatening to undermine public investments, the conference will help keep HIV on the front burner, and is a chance to demonstrate the importance of continued HIV investments to broader health and development goals. AIDS 2010 is also an opportunity to highlight the critical connection between human rights and HIV; a dialogue begun in earnest in Mexico City in 2008.”

Organizers announced recently that former President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States, and South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi will be among the many high-level speakers who will address the conference. Clinton’s keynote address is slated for Monday, July 19.

Other Clark University faculty engaged in the aids2031 effort include: David Bell, IDCE Associate Director and Associate Professor of Practice in IDSC; Ellen Foley, assistant professor of IDSC; Rob Goble, IDCE Research Professor of Environmental Science & Policy; and Barbara Thomas-Slayter, IDCE research professor.    In June, they hosted a workshop of Social Capital and HIV at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria.

The year 2031 will mark 50 years since the first report of AIDS. This December, the aids2031 initiative   plans to launch its final report, titled "AIDS – Taking the Long-term View." The findings and recommendations are expected to be the centerpiece for a series of public conversations and roundtables with political, research and business leaders around the world. (December 1 is World AIDS Day.)