On February 26, 2010, LifeSciences BC, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, the University of British Columbia and the International AIDS Society hosted a world-class summit against the backdrop of the 2010 Olympic games entitled “The Impact of Science & Innovation in the Evolving Global Health Paradigm: HIV and AIDS – A Global Challenge of Olympic Proportion.”
This event brought together world leaders in HIV research, health, innovation and policy to share the latest and compelling perspectives on the challenges being faced under a shifting global health paradigm, focusing in on the role of science and innovation on the concerted, global effort to combat the spread of HIV infection and to improve the lives of those living with AIDS.
We were pleased to welcome the following presenters: Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under Secretary-General of the United Nations; Dr. Daria Hazuda, Vice President, Worldwide Discovery Franchise Head, Infectious Diseases, Merck Research Laboratories; Dr. Stefano Bertozzi, HIV Director-Global Health Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health; and Dr. Mark Dybul, Co-Director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University.
Dr. Julio Montaner, President of the International AIDS Society and Director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS led the panel discussions while Ministers Kevin Falcon and Ida Chong brought remarks on behalf of the Province of British Columbia.
We also heard messaging from the International Olympic Committee about its HIV campaign during the 2010 Olympics. Tommy Sithole, Director of International Cooperation & Development, International Olympic Committee described the IOC’s partnership with UNAIDS and how the Olympics can be used to highlight information about the disease.
Other items on the agenda included UNAIDS Executive Michel Sidibé calling on the Canadian Government to ensure the G8 delivers on its commitment to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Dr. Stefano Bertozzi, recently appointed HIV Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, examined the impact of the global financial crisis on AIDS funding and highlighted the opportunity for improving the efficiency of HIV programs thus improving the performance of health systems.
Dr. Montaner described the British Columbia’s “Seek and Treat” program, an innovative $48 million pilot project which will send health-care workers out to the streets of Vancouver to diagnose and treat hard-to-reach population. The program focuses on early treatment and prevention and aims to improve treatment access for populations that are disproportionately affected by HIV.
Karimah Es Sabar, President of LifeSciences BC commented, “The tremendous support of everyone involved resulted in a truly remarkable day – one that I certainly left from greatly enlightened as to just how this epidemic affects us all and hwo we must all be inspired to action.”
The Summit was held at the state-of-the-art Life Sciences Centre at the University of British Columbia and drew in excess of 200 local, national and international attendees. The day concluded with a reception hosted by the Province of the British Columbia at the Terminal City Club.
Proceedings from the Summit will be available in the coming weeks to ensure the insights, conclusions and “calls to action” of the event are carried forward to the key stakeholders, strategists and policymakers implicit in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS.
We would like to thank the following Supporting Partners on this event: MERCK, Rx&D – Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, the BC Innovation Council, the National Research Council – Industrial Research Assistance Program and Western Economic Diversification Canada.