AIDS 2020 online: introduction

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

This year the largest HIV conference had the challenge to turn an international conference, usually attended by 20,000 delegates, into a meeting that would be entirely accessed online.

The meetings are organised every two years by the International AIDS Society and if done successfully, the virtual conference could involve and reach far more people globally than could ever attend in person.

Although the scientific programme is already online, access is restricted to delegates until the conference ends on 10 July 2020. After this, all material should then become open access.

Free access is already available to some sections, for example the virtual exhibitions linked to the Global Village, although this still requires one-time free registration. Some of these projects adapt to a virtual format but they certainly don’t compare to direct interactions with real people.

Based on the experience from AIDS 2020, face-to-face conferences are not likely to be replaced by virtual ones, but they will have to develop into better models, as COVID-19 is likely to continue to limit travel, at least for the rest of this year.

Whether due to teething problems or lack of testing, the AIDS 2020 website was difficult to access and the programme was and is still difficult to follow. The serious loss will be the scientific advances that are not yet reported and for the lack of critical scrutiny given to the studies that are reported.

However, now that the conference and related meetings have finished, there might be the potential for better online access afterwards. Technically, if all presentations were presented virtually, a larger percentage than usually will remain available online, and these will now be open access.

The articles below in this issue of HTB cover the main breaking news, but we will continue to report other studies in future issues.

AIDS 2020 reports in this issue of HTB

Links to new reports will be posted below.

This report was first posted on 8 July 2020.

Links to other websites are current at date of posting but not maintained.