March 27, 2020 at 3:26 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
International AIDS Conference to be held virtually because of coronavirus
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Organizers of the 2020 International AIDS Conference on Friday announced the event will be held virtually because of the coronavirus.

The conference was scheduled to take place in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., from July 6-10. International AIDS Society President Anton Pozniak and the conference’s two U.S. co-chairs, Cynthia Carey-Grant and Monica Gandhi, in a statement said the virtual conference “will enable delegates to access and engage with the latest HIV science, advocacy and knowledge traditionally presented at the conference.”

“It will be a compelling combination of virtual sessions and community networking, including exhibitions, workshops, the Global Village, satellites and pre-conferences that will reach audiences around the world,” reads the statement.

The statement notes people with HIV are likely at heightened risk for coronavirus. Organizers also said the decision to make the conference virtual “was informed by advice from the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, leading global and local health authorities, and people living with HIV around the globe.”

“We are acutely aware that there is not yet sufficient data on whether people living with HIV are more susceptible to COVID-19 or more likely to develop severe disease,” reads the statement. “Therefore, we have a special obligation to reduce any potential risk to the HIV community.”

“Furthermore, many of those who were planning to attend are now working on the front lines in the response to COVID-19 around the world,” it adds. “We have a responsibility to not put any of these individuals — or their home communities — at risk, nor redirect their efforts at a critical time in the response to the pandemic.”

The 20112 International AIDS Conference took place in D.C.

Statistics from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine indicate there are 94,238 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,438 deaths from the disease in the U.S.

San Francisco as of 9 a.m. PST on Friday had 279 confirmed coronavirus cases with three deaths. Alameda County, the county in which Oakland is located, as of Thursday had 164 reported coronavirus cases and four deaths.

A statewide stay-at-home order remains in effect in California.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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