HIV and AIDS researchers from across Canada are set to meet later this spring in St. John’s as part of an annual conference.
The 23rd edition of the Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research, happening May 1-4, will mark the first time it has been held in Newfoundland and Labrador. The full program for the conference was released last Wednesday. The Canadian Association for HIV Research is responsible for the event.
Conference co-chair Michael Grant said having the event in St. John’s means more people from Newfoundland and Labrador can attend. More than 50 student volunteers are also taking part.
“We’ve got a number of local chairs for the sessions who will be involved with the conference, and I think there are a number of people who will go and attend the conference who wouldn’t go if it was in another city,” said Grant.
A special session will also focus on intravenous drug use and testing for HIV and hepatitis C in Newfoundland and Labrador. More than 700 researchers from Canada and other parts of the world are expected to attend. Grant, a professor of immunology with Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, has attended the annual conference every year excluding one.
The conference’s focus on sharing scientific research and discussing the issues facing the global HIV/AIDS response benefits from having so many researchers in attendance.
“It’s great for people like me,” explains Grant. “I’m a biomedical scientist, but I meet people involved in social science, clinical science, public health, epidemiology, and learn about their research.”
Much progress has been made in the fight against HIV and AIDS since the conference was first held in the early 1990s.
“There have been huge changes over the years as anti-viral drugs have become more effective,” said Grant. “HIV-infected people are living longer and growing older, which has introduced a new set of issues for scientists to deal with — scientists, social workers and health-care front-line workers.”
MUN School of Pharmacy associate professor Debbie Kelly is co-chairing the conference alongside Grant. The School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, and MUN’s Office of Research are among the conference’s sponsors.