Montreal re-hosts the International AIDS Conference decades after becoming a historic landmark with activist protests – AIDS Agency

The city of Montreal, Canada, will host the 24th International AIDS Conference, from July 29 to August 2. The event aims to bring together 15,000 participants – leading scientists, policymakers and activists – both in person and virtually. The theme this year is: “Re-engage and follow the science”. Concerned about the lack of interest and the slow pace of progress in the HIV response, the IAS (International Aids Society) is urging the world to re-engage and follow the science.

In the official opening, featuring actor, writer and gay activist Omar Shariff Jr., scientists will explore the sources and evolution of growing apathy, and why and how the world must re-engage and follow science toward the common goal. to overcome the HIV epidemic as a threat to public health and individual well-being.

The panel will feature the participation of journalist André Picard (The Globe and Mail, Canada); Linda-Gail Bekker, Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, South Africa; Rachel Ong, Global Fund Advocates Network Asia-Pacific, Singapore; and John Nkengasong of the US State Department. The AIDS 2022 pre-conferences will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, July 27 and 28, and will be held in person, at the Palais des Congrés in Montreal, Canada, and virtually.

1989: Activism invades the International AIDS Conference

Montreal is the fifth city – along with San Francisco, Washington, Durban and Amsterdam – to host the conference twice.

In 1989, the city entered the history of the fight against HIV/AIDS when around 300 participants from the NGOs ACT UP and their Canadian partners AIDS Action Now! and Réaction-SIDA, invaded the opening stage of the Fifth International AIDS Conference.

“Until that June day, the conference was an event for members of the AIDS establishment only, a chance for scientists to mingle with their fellow witches while distributing wisdom and press releases to beleaguered doctors and a fawning press,” wrote the writer and activist Ron Goldberg in POZ magazine. A member of ACT UP New York from 1987 to 1995, Goldberg stated that, until then, people living with HIV/AIDS “were presented primarily as abstractions, their lives reduced to spreadsheet statistics, their needs and desires mere glimpses of the noble pursuit of science. Of course, if they wanted to make their presence more concrete, they were welcome, for a $500 entry fee. And then came Montreal.”

Conyers Thompson of ACT UP New York takes the stage at the opening ceremonies of the 5th International AIDS Conference in Montreal, June 4, 1989.

The activists would publish the landmark Montreal Manifesto, an international declaration of rights for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Legendary Montreal activist Roger Le Clerc says a lot has changed since ACT UP Montréal founded Parc de L’Espoir, Montreal’s renowned AIDS memorial park, in 1991. “When Montreal hosted the conference in 1989, people died of AIDS every day, while local support groups couldn’t get funding from the government,” recalls Le Clerc. “Our protest at the conference helped change that. Over the years, a critical mass of Montreal doctors, researchers and scientists have dedicated themselves to fighting HIV/AIDS around the world. We are still waiting for a cure, but Montreal hosting the 24th International AIDS Conference shows how far we have all come since the historic conference in 1989.”

When the International AIDS Society (IAS) announced Montreal as the host city for AIDS 2022, it noted that the city is “remembered as the moment when the advocacy took center stage.”

Montreal was also an AIDS research center. In fact, it was the Montreal laboratory of Dr. Mark Wainberg – director of the McGill University AIDS Center at Jewish General Hospital until his untimely death in 2017 – who helped identify lamivudine (3TC) as an antiviral drug that is now one of the most widely used drugs in the treatment of HIV. In choosing the multicultural, open-minded and firmly inclusive city to host the conference, the IAS noted that “Montréal remains a leading center for HIV research” and stated “Canada’s reputation for global leadership in the HIV response, excellence in awareness of early progressive policies aimed at PLHIA strongly influenced the focus and goals of AIDS 2022.”


Among the featured speakers at the 24th International AIDS Conference is the famous immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). As the longtime head of the Institute’s Immunoregulation Laboratory, Dr. Fauci has made many seminal contributions to basic and clinical research and is one of the most cited biomedical scientists in the world. He was the principal architect of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that saved millions of lives in low- and middle-income countries.

The event will also count with the participation of the Brazilian Beatriz Grinsztejn, infectious disease physician and researcher at the Evandro Chagas National Institute of Infectious Diseases – Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro. She is Director of the STD / AIDS Clinical Research Laboratory and principal investigator of the HIV Prevention and Therapeutic Clinical Trials Unit at FIOCRUZ. Dr. Grinsztejn is the lead Brazilian researcher in the Caribbean, Central and South American network for HIV epidemiology of the International Epidemiological Databases to Assess AIDS. She is a member of the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s ART and PrEP Advisory Committees, the PAHO Technical Advisory Committee and the UNAIDS PrEP Task Force and Scientific Expert Panel. Earlier this year, Beatriz Grinsztejn was elected president of the IAS, starting in 2024.

In addition to them, the following will be at the Conference, among others:

Annah SangoAdvocacy Officer of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), based in Harare, Zimbabwe;

Caleb Orozcohuman rights and LGBT advocate and activist, executive director of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM);

Doris Peltier, a 65-year-old indigenous woman living with HIV. She is Anishinaabe’s grandmother and great-grandmother of Wikwemikoong, a First Nations community in the Odawa, Ojibway, and Pottawatami Unceded Territory of Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada. She is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Feast Center for Indigenous STBBI Research;Glenda GrayNational Research Foundation (NRF) A1-rated scientist and CEO and chairman of the Medical Research Council of South Africa (SAMRC);

Weiming Tangco-director of Project-China at the University of North Carolina, associate professor at UNC-Chapel Hill;

Thomas RasmussenPhysician and Clinical Researcher at Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, with MD and PhD from Aarhus University;·

Shereen El Feki, UNAIDS regional director, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) sexuality and gender specialist with extensive experience in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and its intersection with political, economic and social dynamics;

Linda-Gail Bekker, Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Center at the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Executive Director of the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation;

Jeffrey Eatonsenior professor of HIV epidemiology at Imperial College London.

Among the tables, the Aids Agency highlights some themes:

  • PrEP to 2030: Why optimizing and expanding the mix of services and products is critical to meeting unmet needs for PrEP and supporting effective use towards HIV prevention goals in 2030 (29 July 07:45 – 08:45)
  • Trans Inclusion in National HIV Policy and Planning: A collaborative discussion among activists, researchers and policymakers (July 29 07:45 – 08:45)
  • The road to zero: successes, lessons learned and the work ahead to end advanced HIV-related mortality (29 July 13:00 – 14:30)
  • Mental health and HIV: the emerging and critical dimension in the fight against HIV (30 July 08:00 – 09:00)
  • Together in this: How to integrate health services for specific populations (July 30 11:45 – 12:45)
  • Co-infections: what’s new? (31 July 10:30 – 11:30)
  • Ending HIV Stigma: We Know What Works, We Need to Do More (31 July 08:00 – 09:00)
  • End AIDS by reaching key populations through decentralized testing (01 August 08:00 – 09:00)

Access the full program by clicking here.

Aids Agency newsroom with information