It is an honour to write to you as the new IAS President. As I begin my service, I am grateful to my predecessor Elly Katabira for his leadership and his stewardship of the IAS..
We all owe Elly a debt of gratitude for his many contributions to our collective work, and I want to acknowledge specifically his commitment to ensuring that the voices of frontline HIV professionals have a central role in designing and strengthening the programmes that they deliver on the ground.
It was a special honour to assume the IAS presidency at the close of AIDS 2012, a moment of extraordinary hope and responsibility. The conference will be remembered for many reasons, but I was especially pleased to see the high quality of Track A and such strong representation from my peers in the basic sciences. So much of our past and future progress is rooted in the basic sciences, and it is vital that this conference is a forum for basic scientists to network and collaborate with one another, with community representatives and with those across all scientific disciplines.
The IAS organizes these conferences as means towards advancing our collective priorities. Our ultimate goal is not to organize big HIV/ AIDS events, but to contribute to an effective HIV response, including promoting the implementation of evidence-based policies to reach the goals set in the IAS's six priority areas. It is my firm belief that the only way to end the epidemic is to implement tools and best practices rooted in scientific evidence at every level of the HIV response. People living with HIV rightly expect to benefit from the tools that science delivers, and we must unite to ensure that their needs translate into commitments by political leaders and decision makers. I recommit to standing with all of you and with our allies to advocate for science-based HIV and AIDS programmes and polices around the world.
One of my priorities in the next two years will be to increase the dialogue and cooperation with organizations that work on diseases other than HIV. Our experience in fighting HIV can be useful to others and those of us working in HIV can learn a great deal from the experiences of those outside of HIV. Collectively, we can improve the health of those who suffer.
I look forward to working with the membership, the secretariat and our partners to further the progress on our policy priorities and to ensure that IAS 2013 in Kuala Lumpur and AIDS 2014 in Melbourne offer the greatest possible opportunities for collective action to build on the progress we hailed in Washington D.C.