Amsterdam: a key player in AIDS prevention and awareness

The Netherlands – and, of course, Amsterdam – has always been a strong advocate in the fight against AIDS. When HIV/AIDS first emerged as a major public health threat in the 1980s, the Netherlands took on the challenge head on. The country embraced evidence-based scientific research and worked with populations that many of the world’s other countries stigmatised and marginalised.

In fact, Amsterdam hosted the 8th International AIDS Conference back in 1992, helping the conference grow into the number-one platform for AIDS prevention and an advocate of the human-rights approach as a public health imperative. Additionally, the International Community of Women Living with HIVAIDS (ICW) was launched in Amsterdam at the 1992 AIDS conference.

Amsterdam was one of the world’s first cities to support needle-exchange schemes, which helped combat the growing epidemic among drug users who inject (shared needles are one of the major causes of blood-borne-virus transmission.) And the Dutch capital has always been a global hub for research on HIV. Examples of this include the Amsterdam Cohort Studies on HIV infection and AIDS, and an ongoing trial that compares daily and intermittent use of pre-exposure antiretroviral prophylaxis. The latter project is part of the H-TEAM, a city-focused approach to the HIV epidemic.

Fast forward to today, and Amsterdam is a Fast-Track City, dedicated to ensuring that the world reaches the ambitious goal of ending AIDS by 2030. And so, the global community will return to the Dutch capital in 2018 to learn from a country that has time and time again shown commitment and practicality in tackling the AIDS/HIV epidemic. Amsterdam’s historic effort to end its HIV epidemic has proved extremely successful; in the past five years, HIV diagnoses in the city has fallen by half, and – as of 2016 – about 94% of all people living with HIV in the city knew their HIV status and over 83% achieved viral suppression.

“The Netherlands is a great example of what happens when a government supports outstanding science and embraces evidence-based HIV programmes in combination with a robust commitment to human rights,” said Chris Beyrer, the immediate past president of the International AIDS Society (IAS). “We are delighted to convene the International AIDS Conference in a city and country so committed to fighting the epidemic.”

Find out what makes Amsterdam an ideal location for congresses, conventions, events and trade fairs.