Dear 2019 IAS Youth Ambassadors,
Thank you for your letter regarding your request for at least one young person (under the age of 26) to deliver a plenary presentation at all International AIDS Society (IAS) conferences.
We were pleased to hear you were impressed that almost 40% of presenters were under 35 years old at the 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2019) in Mexico City. The IAS is strongly committed to ensuring active youth participation in our conferences and programmes, providing young people aged 16-35 with over 150 scholarships to attend IAS 2019 and over 700 scholarships to attend the larger 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018).
While the IAS is the steward of the International AIDS Conference and the IAS Conference on HIV Science, the conference programme, including plenary sessions, is developed by an external Conference Coordinating Committee.
We have shared your request with Manuel Venegas, who is the Youth Representative on the AIDS 2020 Conference Coordinating Committee where this issue will be raised.
The AIDS 2020 Secretariat will connect the IAS Youth Ambassadors with Manuel so you can continue the conversation. We strongly urge you to engage directly to improve youth representation at AIDS 2020 and ask that, in particular, you use this opportunity to make specific recommendations of suitable young speakers and the topics they are best placed to address.
We also encourage you to take advantage of, and promote among your networks, the opportunities that the IAS provides for young people at the conference, including through the Youth Ambassador programme and the Abstract Mentor Programme (AMP). The AMP aims to provide less experienced and early-career abstract submitters with a better opportunity of having their abstracts accepted as either oral or abstract presentations to International AIDS or IAS conferences.
Additionally, the IAS also has a devoted campaign, Youth Voices, which supports the active participation of adolescents and young people in the HIV response through focus groups, educational opportunities, financial support, tailored resources and amplifying personal stories to help shape key policy decisions. We welcome your ongoing participation in this campaign to ensure that young people’s voices are heard in the HIV response between each conference. The IAS project manager will contact you regarding ways you can engage with the campaign.
The IAS welcomes your thoughts, ideas and recommendations on how we can strengthen platforms for young people throughout IAS conferences, membership, programmes and campaigns, as well as more broadly in the global HIV response.
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