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FAQs – AIDS 2020

General FAQ

What measures are AIDS 2020 organizers taking regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We realize that the COVID-19 outbreak is causing much uncertainty around the world and we are committed to holding AIDS 2020 in a way that safeguards the health and wellbeing of all as much as possible.

Therefore, we are exploring alternative formats, including virtual ones, to ensure that AIDS 2020 delegates have access to and can engage with the latest HIV science, advocacy and knowledge traditionally presented at the conference.

Current information about COVID-19 is available from WHO and the CDC. COVID-19 travel restrictions for visitors to the US can be found here.

Read more in the COVID-19 FAQ section on tab 2.


  • To determine the location for each International AIDS Conference, the International AIDS Society (IAS) conducts an extensive, open-bid process that begins 18 months before a decision is made. For the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020), IAS also conducted proactive outreach to more than 20 cities worldwide to encourage them to submit a bid, starting in 2016.
  • The process involves an extensive evaluation of each city’s ability to house the meeting and its delegates, commitment to supporting scientific research and implementation, and inclusion of civil society and communities living with HIV in their local response. Each city is required to include a cross-section of policy makers, scientific researchers and civil society as part of the bid.
  • The leadership demonstrated by the State of California in bidding for AIDS 2020 was unparalleled. We received 33 letters of support from local AIDS organizations, local key population networks, leading activists and political leaders, all willing to support the mission of the conference. These included:
    • Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris
    • Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
    • Congresswoman Barbara Lee
    • Leaders of the State Legislature’s LGBT Caucus
    • Governor Jerry Brown
  • For AIDS 2020, only cities in the global North chose to submit bids. Even after extensive outreach from IAS staff and site visits to potential hosts in the global South, we did not receive any applications from the South.


  • The US Government plays a vitally important role in addressing the epidemic both globally and domestically. Year after year, we see attempts to dismantle and de-fund these programmes. Despite this, the US still contributes three of every four donor dollars going towards global HIV and AIDS programmes.
  • Experience tells us that locations with significant challenges frequently offer the greatest opportunities for change. AIDS 2000 in Durban is a good example. We went in fully aware that the South African President was in denial that HIV even caused AIDS. That gathering marked a turning point for our movement.
  • In its bid, the State of California and the cities of San Francisco and Oakland have jointly shown their willingness to leverage the conference as a platform to challenge discriminatory policies, in partnership with conference organizers.


  • Returning to the Bay Area – a sanctuary of the HIV response – 30 years since the conference was last hosted there provides a rare opportunity to renew interest and commitments, while also engaging a multitude of new actors, including the tech industry.
  • Holding AIDS 2020 in the Bay Area will allow us to showcase innovations that have helped San Francisco nearly eliminate new infections and examine new strategies being employed in Oakland, a city tackling very different challenges.
  • Beyond the Bay Area, AIDS 2020 will shine a spotlight on communities across the US where the HIV epidemic is far from over. People of colour in the US continue to face disproportionate barriers to accessing prevention and treatment. If current trends persist, one in two black gay men will acquire HIV in his lifetime.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.2 million people in the US are living with HIV – and nearly one in eight of those are not aware that they are infected.
  • The opioid crisis has fuelled a resurgence of new HIV infections. In 2015, an outbreak was discovered in Indiana, and in 2018, the CDC spoke of another cluster in Massachusetts linked to injecting drug use.


  • This will not be the first time that the conference is held in a country during an election year. In 2012 in Washington, D.C. it was also a presidential election year and the conference served as major platform to look at key political issues in the country at that time.
  • The State of the Union address by the US President in 2019, announced a commitment to the Ending the HIV Epidemic by 2030, demonstrating that HIV will be a key topic during this election cycle and the conference can serve as a platform to advance that discussion.
  • Partners in both San Francisco and Oakland are committed to using the conference to make HIV science and policy front-and-centre election year issues.
  • With the selection of the Bay Area for AIDS 2020, we have the chance to elevate US and global HIV concerns to the national and international stage. That includes shining a spotlight on and working to reform unjust policies that restrict entry into the country and perpetuate a climate of stigma and fear.
  • This is a rare moment to put HIV and those most affected, including people of colour, minorities and the economically disadvantaged, at the centre of the election discussion.
  • Key community and political leaders in San Francisco and Oakland recognize the benefit of the conference in solidifying collaborations between the two cities that will play an important role during the election year.
  • We think that hosting AIDS 2020 in the US at this time will potentially give HIV a much bigger platform than it would otherwise have in important national and political debates that will be happening then.


  • The selection of two host cities is unprecedented. Through the unique partnership of Oakland and San Francisco, we can examine two very different epidemics. This is the first time in history that an International AIDS Conference is being hosted by two cities.
  • San Francisco and Oakland represent a tale of two cities and two diverging experiences that offer insights relevant to the broader HIV community.
  • San Francisco was one of the first cities to embrace the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and to launch a Getting to Zero effort involving a citywide collaboration of stakeholders from all sectors. It is on track to end new HIV infections by 2020.
  • Across the Bay, Oakland continues to face racial and economic disparities and disproportionate rates of HIV. The city signed onto the Fast-Track Cities Initiative in 2015 and is strengthening policies and programmes tailored to communities most affected by HIV, specifically those that reduce social and economic barriers to HIV prevention and care, in order to reach the 90-90-90 targets.
  • The Bay Area is a hub of top-line, multidisciplinary, global HIV and AIDS research, led by the The University of California, San Francisco, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the Gladstone Institute of Virology & Immunology, UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Stanford University..


  • Conference organizers are committed to ensuring that programming and activities are fairly balanced in both cities.
  • No decisions have been made yet about how to split programming across the cities. The Conference Coordinating Committee will take on this responsibility, seeking input from partners throughout the decision-making process.


  • Organizers recognize that the Bay area is expensive and that special measures are needed to ensure affordable access and optimal participation.
  • Since 2014, the conference organizers have doubled the number of scholarships for conference attendees. We are committed to continuing to increase the number of scholarships available to those who otherwise could not afford to attend.
  • San Francisco has agreed to waive the cost of the conference venue. These significant savings will allow us to increase our investment in scholarships and keep to the commitment we have maintained for the past decade to not raise registration fees.
  • Local partners are also helping secure low-cost accommodation by working with universities, hotels and hostels.


  • We are working with our partners to come up with creative solutions to make AIDS 2020 virtually accessible to participants in other countries and to ensure that the voices of those who cannot attend in person are heard at the conference. We are actively pursuing support from the many leading technology companies in the Bay Area to enhance our remote access options.
  • This planning is a priority of the Conference Coordinating Committee and updates will be available as soon as solutions are confirmed.


  • There are specific events that would automatically be grounds for moving the conference. If, for example, the HIV travel ban is reinstated, this would not allow for the GIPA Principle – one of the key markers in the HIV movement – to be realized and, as such, would be a catalyst for moving the conference.
  • All countries have immigration restrictions and, as with each conference, we work with civil society, governments, private sector partners and others to find innovative ways to ensure maximum participation in the conference – especially for key populations and people living with HIV.
  • We pledge to use the conference platform to continue advocating against discriminatory and stigmatizing policies and practices in all countries to effect change on our shared concerns, such as visa and immigration issues. Although many of these challenges are not US specific, they are particularly challenging under the current administration.


The conference’s registration refund policy allows for the registration fees minus a handling fee of US$65 to be refunded after the conference if the visa was applied for in time (90 days before travelling to the US) and proof is shown that a visa could not be granted even though all requested documents were submitted. There are no refunds for any additional items ordered. Refund requests must be made in writing and sent with the required documents to the AIDS 2020 Registration team, by email at, no later than 6 July 2020. No refund requests (including required proofs) will be accepted after this date. Full information on this policy will be available in the registration terms and conditions on the conference website.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

What measures are AIDS 2020 organizers taking regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We realize that the COVID-19 outbreak is causing much uncertainty around the world and we are committed to holding AIDS 2020 in a way that safeguards the health and wellbeing of all as much as possible.

Therefore, we are exploring alternative formats, including virtual ones, to ensure that AIDS 2020 delegates have access to and can engage with the latest HIV science, advocacy and knowledge traditionally presented at the conference.

Current information about COVID-19 is available from WHO and the CDC. COVID-19 travel restrictions for visitors to the US can be found here.

What impact will COVID-19 have on AIDS 2020?

Ensuring the health and safety of our community and that of our host cities is our top priority. We are closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 and actively exploring alternative options, should they be needed, to ensure that attendees have access to and can engage with the insights, knowledge and science presented at the conference.

Our decisions will be informed by guidance from local, state and federal health officials in the US, WHO and experts in the HIV community.

We are acutely aware that there is not yet sufficient research on the impact of COVID-19 on people living with HIV. We are also conscious of the fact many delegates working in health and research are currently stretched and are providing essential support to their communities. We feel a special obligation to reducing any potential risk to both of these groups.

How does California’s ban on gatherings of more than 250 people affect your planning?

We are exploring formats that will allow the conference to go forward, including virtual ones, if physical gatherings are still banned or not advisable at the time of the conference.

What about people who can’t attend AIDS 2020 because of US travel restrictions related to COVID-19 or people who choose not to travel?

US travel restrictions related to COVID-19 continue to evolve. We encourage anyone with questions to visit the CDC website for the latest information. We are working with our partners to come up with creative solutions to make AIDS 2020 virtually accessible to people who cannot attend.

What about your cancellation policy?

We have just extended our 50% refund deadline for exhibitors and those holding satellite symposia to 30 April to take into account the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

We assure those who have already registered or those still considering to register that the secretariat is working to ensure that, even if a physical event cannot take place, access to and engagement with the insights, knowledge and science will be provided via virtual platforms.

Are you considering holding the conference virtually?

Yes, we are considering a variety of options, including a virtual conference, to ensure that delegates get the benefits they expect from AIDS 2020 while safeguarding health and contributing to the containment of COVID-19.

Visa information


  • The conference secretariat and its partners are working closely with US Government officials, including both Administration and Congress officials, and immigration experts to ensure that those who wish to attend AIDS 2020 have the most accurate and up-to-date information about current policy and visa application processes.
  • While there are many compelling reasons for holding AIDS 2020 in the Bay Area, we recognize that an HIV conference in the United States faces practical challenges. We have strong political commitment that we believe will help us in finding pragmatic ways to address these issues.
  • The American Friends of AIDS 2012 in Washington DC offers an important model for preparing for AIDS 2020. Early engagement by the Friends’ policy experts and advocates in 2011-2012 helped address a large number of access issues for delegates travelling internationally.
  • This successful model has been put in place for 2020 through the American Friends of AIDS 2020 – a high-level, multidisciplinary, bipartisan advisory group launched in late 2018, comprised of IAS partners and policy experts working to address specific immigration challenges. This advisory group has begun coordinating with immigration experts to examine existing laws, advise AIDS 2020 attendees on how to navigate them, and create an ongoing direct dialogue connecting IAS leadership and conference co-chairs with key US Government officials. This effort, bolstered by direct follow up by the IAS to US Government officials, is designed to provide the latest information to delegates and address issues and questions as they arise.
  • As the US policy environment continues to evolve, conference organizers, with continued input from the American Friends of AIDS 2020, plan to keep the public apprised of any changes that could affect conference attendance.


For participants coming to the US for the conference only, the answer is no. On 4 October 2019, President Donald Trump signed a new Presidential Proclamation on Health Care, which asserts that all individuals seeking to enter the United States must be covered by approved health insurance within 30 days of entry into the United States. This proclamation does not affect those entering on any temporary visa, including H-1B visa holders, L-1 intracompany transferees, international students and scholars, visitors for business, tourists or people entering for any other temporary purpose.


This proclamation will only affect people who come to the United States and expect to stay/live in the US and who were issued an immigrant visa on or after 3 November 2019 (the date this proclamation took effect). More information can be found on the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs website.


  • While there are ongoing changes to US immigration law and policy, these changes up to now do not materially affect nonimmigrant visa applicants (that is, those on tourist or business visas).
  • There have been no policy changes to the visa application process for short-term visitors under the current US Administration, with the notable exception of those seven countries subject to Presidential Proclamation 9645 (Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen). Information on Presidential Proclamation 9645 may be found here.
  • On 31 January 2020, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that President Donald Trump signed a proclamation, which suspends the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. This proclamation will take effect on 22 February 2020 and does not affect nonimmigrant visas. People from these countries will still be able to visit the United States as tourists. More information can be found on the US Department of Homeland Security website.
  • In addition, recent policy changes and proposals regarding the definition of “public charge” have raised concerns about their potential impact on AIDS 2020 attendees. To clarify, a “public charge” is an individual who is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence”. Most important to note is that public charge determinations are rarely applied to nonimmigrant visa applicants, for example, those on tourist or business visa.
  • There have been no changes to application requirements for individuals who indicate that they have a history of drug use, sex work or criminal charge; these remain grounds for inadmissibility for entering the US. These reasons, called ineligibilities, are listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Depending on the circumstances, an individual may be able to apply for a waiver of ineligibility. The consular officer will advise you if you can apply for a waiver of ineligibility. Learn more about waivers of ineligibility.


The conference organizers strongly recommend that potential AIDS 2020 delegates apply for visas early at the US embassy or consulate in their country. Specific details on visa applications can be found at


  • All visa applications should be made no later than 90 days before travelling to the US (that is, no later than 15 April 2020 for conference delegates).  However, it is strongly recommended that applicants begin the process earlier than this (at least six months in advance). In addition, applicants requiring a waiver of ineligibility into the United States are advised that the waiver process often takes as long as six months.
  • Delegates should refer to the nearest US embassy or consulate website to check on the exact requirements for applying for a visa, ideally at least six months in advance of the conference. Links to all embassies and consulates can be found at
  • All delegates requiring a visa to enter the US will need to have an interview with a US consular office. Scheduling of interviews must be done directly by the delegate with the embassy or consulate that will process the application. Interviews at most embassies are scheduled through an online system.
  • A list of US embassies, consulates and links to contact details are available here. For an overview of the US embassies/consulates and their interview and processing times, please click here.


  • The main barrier to entry facing visa applicants remains the same: applicants have not convinced a consular officer that they qualify for the visa. Generally, an officer will consider the totality of an applicant’s circumstances, including whether an applicant has sufficient ties to their home country and will use the visa for its lawfully intended purpose.
  • In addition, due to several reasons described under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a consular officer may decide that an individual is inadmissible to the US and therefore a visa application will be denied. The grounds for inadmissibility set forth in the INA include health concerns, drug trafficking, use of controlled substances, criminal activity, national security reasons, likelihood of becoming a public charge, lack of labour certification (if required), fraud and misrepresentation, prior removals and/or unlawful presence and sex work. If you are inadmissible to the US based on one or more laws listed in the INA, it may be possible to apply for a waiver. For more information, please review the visa ineligibilities and waivers of ineligibility sections of the INA.
  • To view US immigration-related laws in the INA by title, chapter and section, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.


  • It is important to refer to individual embassy and consulate websites, found through Visa applicants are required to provide the following at the visa interview:
    • Nonimmigrant Visa Application,  Form DS-160 confirmation page.
    • Passport that is valid for at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the US.
    • Proof of visa fee payment,  if you are required to pay before your interview.
    • When completing the online Form DS-160, you will be required to upload your photo electronically. As explained in the photograph format requirements, please bring one printed photo if the photo upload fails.
  • Please note that it is your responsibility to confirm the requirements and obtain entry to the US.


No. As of 2010, a person living with HIV is no longer held ineligible under section 212(a) (1). This remains current policy and law in the US.


The visa application form and visa waiver process includes questions about communicable diseases, drug use, the use of controlled substances, arrests and sex work. If a delegate answers any of these questions affirmatively, the individual may be found to be inadmissible to the US and therefore a visa application would be denied. Depending on the circumstances, an individual may qualify for a waiver of ground of ineligibility. For more information, review the visa ineligibilities in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).


Media representatives must meet specific requirements to qualify for a media (I) visa under immigration law. Information to help journalists navigate the visa application process can be found on the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs website.


  • Individuals requiring an official letter of invitation from the AIDS 2020 organizers can request one through the online registration form. To receive an AIDS 2020 letter of invitation, delegates must first register for the conference, pay in full and submit any required supporting documentation (if applicable). Delegates should begin the visa application process early, including a request for a letter of invitation, ideally at least six months before the conference, for those who do not require a waiver.
  • The AIDS 2020 letter of invitation does not financially obligate the conference organizers in any way and nor does it guarantee an entry to the US. All expenses incurred in relation to the conference are the sole responsibility of the delegate.


  • Most visa denials are made on the grounds of the US Immigration and Nationality Act Section 214(b), which states that a nonimmigrant visa cannot be issued to an applicant unless that applicant convinces the consular officer that they will depart the US after a temporary visit rather than stay permanently in the US. The consular officer will look for evidence of a strong financial and/or employment situation and ties to the applicant’s home country.
  • Potential delegates should note that if a visa is denied, there is no appeal process. After being found ineligible for a visa, individuals can reapply and pay the visa application fee again if there is proof that there is significant change in their situation. Learn more about visa denials.
  • If you have been found ineligible to receive a nonimmigrant visa under US immigration law, the consular officer interviewing you will advise you if you may apply for a waiver of ineligibility.
  • If you are eligible to apply for a waiver and wish to apply, you must mail Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, directly to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information, visit


More information to help guide you through the immigration processes can be found on the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

See the Visa Information section for more details.

Scholarship programme


The AIDS 2020 Scholarship Programme will be the largest of any International AIDS Conference so far. The goal is to support 1,600 people – an increase of 43% from the AIDS 2018 Scholarship Programme.

A limited number of scholarships will also be available for media representatives from around the world in collaboration with AVAC.

Although every attempt will be made to assist as many people as possible, the number of scholarships remains limited. Applicants are therefore strongly encouraged to also seek funding from other sources.


No, you do not need to register for the conference in order to submit your scholarship application.

An extension of the early registration fee will be granted to all applicants who submitted a complete application but were not granted support for the conference.


Scholarship applications were open from 1 November 2019 to 23 January 2020 and are now closed


Applicants could request all or some of the following aspects of the scholarship to attend AIDS 2020:

  • Registration fee for the conference (includes access to all sessions and exhibitions);
  • Travel (pre-paid airfare at the lowest fare available, from the nearest international airport and at the dates of the conference);
  • Accommodation (shared room in a budget hotel for the conference only);
  • Modest daily living allowance for the conference days (6-10 July 2020).

Please note that the support requested may not be granted. Full scholarships will only be awarded in a limited number of cases. Partial scholarships will also be awarded.

In all cases, individuals will be required to cover:

  • Visa application costs
  • Medical/travel insurance
  • Meals
  • Hotel incidental expenses
  • Any other expenses.

Abstract mentor programme

Submissions to the AMP are now closed. We would thank the 146 mentors who generously provided constructive and valuable feedback on the 225 abstracts by 161 participating authors.


The Abstract Mentor Programme (AMP) is for less experienced and early-career abstract submitters who plan to submit an abstract to International AIDS or IAS conferences. Introduced at the 15th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2004), the objective of the AMP is to help less experienced submitters improve the quality of their abstract writing.

The AMP aims to provide submitters with a better opportunity of having their abstracts accepted as either oral or abstract presentations. Over the years, the AMP has proven to increase the motivation of early career researchers, as well as the number of abstract submissions from resource-limited countries. This year’s AMP gave 161 participants the chance to benefit from feedback by our expert mentors on 225 different abstracts.


Individuals who seek mentor support or who are interested in becoming a mentor can access the AMP through their conference account until 19 December 2019.


The IAS offers this programme to support professional development for young and less experienced HIV researchers. The programme enables these groups to submit higher quality abstracts, which increases the chance of them being accepted into the conference programme. The aim is to build capacity for a new generation of young researchers and increases the diversity of speakers and presenters at the conference.


No, the AMP closed on 19 December 2019. We would like to thank the 146 mentors who participated in the programme for their time and effort.


Yes, and each participant can make up to 2 submissions.


No, neither mentors nor mentees need to be registered for the conference to participate in the AMP.


You can ask mentors questions on practical issues, such as writing clarity and abstract requirements, as well as any methodological or scientific questions that may arise from the abstract content. Their answers should guide subsequent edits and improvements to the abstract before you officially submit it to the conference.

Here are some examples of previously asked questions:

  • Is my introduction extensive enough?
  • Are my conclusions clear and well supported by the data?
  • Have I described the method well enough?
  • What part of the abstract could I edit to shorten the text?
  • Would a graph or table be useful?
  • What other conclusions/lessons learned should I include?

Note: mentors do not write, translate or make changes to the draft abstract on your behalf.


Mentors will not answer questions related to:

  • Whether or not s/he thinks your abstract will be accepted to the conference
  • Grammar issues
  • Other conference programmes such as scholarships


We match your abstract with a mentor specialized in your field of research and you will receive feedback within 10 working days.


Mentors review abstracts based on guidelines and provide feedback within 10 working days, at the latest by 10 January 2020 (excluding the end of the year holidays period: 24 December 2019 to 1 January 2020).


Yes. Abstracts submitted to AIDS 2020 must be written in English so the AMP is also only available in English.


No, mentoring is completely independent of the abstract review and selection process. Once you have finalized your abstract you need to submit it to the conference through your conference account.


Please consult the online abstract writing module, developed by JIAS in collaboration with Health[e]Foundation, to help you develop your abstract.

Abstract submission

What is an abstract?

In the context of the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020), an abstract is a standalone statement that briefly explains the essential information of a study, research project, policy or programme.

May I submit an abstract to the conference?

AIDS 2020 welcomes submission of abstracts for original contribution to the field in the following scientific tracks:

  • Track A: Basic and translational research
  • Track B: Clinical research
  • Track C: Epidemiology and prevention research
  • Track D: Social and behavioural research
  • Track E: Implementation research, economics, systems and synergies with other health and development sectors
  • Track F: Political research, law, policy and human rights

Abstract submissions are open from 1 November 2019 to 14 January 2020, 23:59 Central European Time. During this period, abstracts will be accepted through the online submission form available in your Conference Account.

Where can I read more about the scientific tracks?

Detailed descriptions of the scope and objectives of each scientific track, as defined by the Scientific Programme Committee, can be found on the Abstract submission guidelines page.

When is the submission deadline for abstracts?

The deadline to submit abstracts is 14 January 2020, 23:59 Central European Time.

My project is still ongoing and there are no results yet. Should I submit an abstract?

Abstracts are intended to present scientific studies, research, programmes and policies, highlighting both the methods or description and results or recommendations. If you are describing a study that is still in the planning stage, it would not be suitable for submission unless the method that you use is, for example, of particular scientific interest. However, if your study is currently ongoing and you only have preliminary data, but it seems relevant or significant, please submit the abstract.

What is a late-breaker abstract?

Late-breaker submissions must introduce data of unquestioned significance. Data analysed after the regular submission deadline (14 January 2020) should not be sent in as late breakers if the data do not meet an extremely high threshold of scientific merit. The percentage of abstracts selected for late breakers will depend on the number of submissions, but selection will certainly be more rigorous than for regular abstracts. A small number of late-breaker abstracts will be accepted to be presented orally or as posters at the conference.

During their abstract submission, authors will have to declare the reason why their abstract is a late breaker. The same submission rules apply for late-breaker abstracts as for regular abstracts, but each presenting author may only present one late-breaker abstract at the conference. The late-breaker abstract submission will be open from 1 to 15 April 2020.

What is the required structure for an abstract?

An abstract consists of a title, author list and abstract text. The body of the abstract can be no longer than 350 words. It can also include tables or graphs and/or images. Literature references should not be included.

AIDS 2020 offers two options for abstract submission:

Option 1

This is suited for research conducted in all disciplines. Abstracts submitted under Option 1 should contain concise statements of:

  • Background: Indicate the purpose and objective of the research, the hypothesis that was tested or a description of the problem being analysed or evaluated.
  • Methods: Describe the study period, setting and location, study design, study population, data collection and methods of analysis used.
  • Results: Present as clearly and in as much detail as possible the findings and/or outcomes of the study. Please disaggregate data by age and gender where possible and summarize any specific results.
  • Conclusions: Explain the significance of the findings and/or outcomes of your study for HIV prevention, treatment, care and/or support and future implications of the results.

Option 2
This is suited for lessons learned through programme, project or policy implementation or management. Abstracts submitted under Option 2 should contain concise statements of:

  • Background: Summarize the purpose, scope and objectives of the programme, project or policy.
  • Description: Describe the programme, project or policy period, setting and location, the structure, key population (if applicable) and activities and interventions undertaken in support of the programme, project or policy.
  • Lessons learned: Present as clearly and in as much detail as possible the findings and/or outcomes of the programme, project or policy. Include an analysis or evaluation of lessons learned and best practices. Please summarize any specific results that support your lessons learned and best practices.
  • Conclusions/next steps: Explain the significance of the findings and/or outcomes of the programme, project or policy for HIV prevention, treatment, care and/or support and future implications of the results.

How do I submit an abstract?

Before submitting an abstract, you are asked to create a Conference account. One or several abstracts can be submitted through the Conference account.

To submit abstracts, please log in to your Conference account and click on the “Abstract submission” box on the Conference account overview page. Then click on the red button, “Submit an abstract”. In the abstract submission system:

  1. Select the track, category and country of research. Enter your abstract title and text.
  2. Enter the presenting author and co-authors (individually).
  3. Preview your abstract and check format and correctness.
  4. Submit your abstract.

To navigate the abstract submission system, please use the “Next step” buttons or the upper menu bar. For detailed instructions about the abstract submission system, please click on “HELP” in the upper menu bar.

After an abstract has been created, modifications can be made at any time until the submission deadline. After submission, the abstract submitter will receive a confirmation email with an abstract reference number. Please refer to this reference number in all conference correspondence.

A tutorial on how to submit an abstract is available on the Abstract submission guidelines page.

Once submitted, can I still modify my abstract?

After an abstract has been submitted via the Conference account, modifications can be made until the deadline, 14 January 2020. After making your modifications, you need to resubmit your abstract. No modifications will be accepted after the submission deadline, 14 January 2020.

How should I define the title of my abstract?

A good abstract title is short, specific, representative and informative. It helps the reviewers categorize your abstract and, if accepted, it may help conference delegates find your presentation. The title should summarize your abstract without going into excessive details. Describe the topic clearly, including, for example, the population, country and issue of the research. Titles are limited to 30 words.

Can I include a table, graph or image in my abstract?

It is possible, but not mandatory, to include tables or graphs/images in the abstract. A maximum of two tables or graphs in total can be included. A graph or image (in JPG, GIF or PNG, ideally at least 600dpi) counts as 50 words and a table counts as five words per row (50 words maximum). As a reminder, the abstract text body is limited to 350 words.

Please create your table or upload your graph or image following the instructions in the abstract submission system. Place the table or graph or image into your abstract text and save the changes. Review the abstract preview page to ensure that your table or graph or image displays properly.

How many co-authors can I include on the list of authors?

There is no limit to the number of co-authors per abstract, although we strongly recommend the use of a study group name for abstracts with a high number of co-authors. A person can be listed as a co-author if they meet ALL the following criteria:

  1. Made substantial contributions to concept and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data
  2. Drafted the abstract or revised it for intellectual content
  3. Approved the final version to be submitted.

Do I need to disclose information about any conflict of interest in my abstract?

If the abstract is accepted, the presenting authors are asked to disclose all financial and personal relationships between themselves and others that might be perceived by others as biasing their work. The conference organizer asks that all presenting authors disclose any conflict of interest at the time of presentation for the benefit of conference delegates. The purpose of this is to guarantee that all potential conflicts of interest are recognized and mechanisms to resolve them prior to the conference are implemented.

Material presented in abstracts should not violate any copyright laws. If figures, graphics and/or images have been taken from sources not copyrighted by the author, it is the author’s sole responsibility to secure the rights from the copyright holder in writing to reproduce those figures, graphics and/or images for both worldwide print and web publication. The author must bear all reproduction costs charged by the copyright holder.

Who selects the abstracts and decides how they will be presented?

All submitted abstracts will go through a blind peer-review process carried out by international reviewers. Each abstract will be reviewed by at least three reviewers. The Scientific Programme Committee makes the final selection of abstracts to be included in the conference programme.

The highest-scoring abstracts will be selected for presentation in an oral abstract session or a poster discussion session. The majority of the posters will be displayed in the poster exhibition.

How can I increase the chances of my abstract being accepted?

The methodology or study design presented in your abstract should be appropriate to address the purpose and objectives. Results or lessons learned should be clearly presented and support the conclusions. In addition, the findings should contribute to the advancement of knowledge and development in the field.
If English is not your native language, we strongly recommend that you have your abstract reviewed by a native English speaker working in your field before submission.
You may check the common reasons for abstract rejection in the abstract submission guidelines.

You may also review examples of abstracts from previous conferences. If you need additional support, the Abstract Mentor Programme offers free, expert feedback to young or less experienced researchers interested in submitting an abstract for AIDS 2020. The programme is open from 4 November to 19 December 2019. Find out more by visiting the AMP webpage.

When will I be notified if my abstract submission has been successful?

Notification of acceptance or rejection will be sent to the submitting (corresponding) author by the end of March.

I need a certificate that shows that my abstract was accepted for the conference. Who do I contact?

To obtain a certificate for abstracts accepted, please contact

Who has the copyright for my abstract after submission?

The submission of the abstract constitutes the authors’ consent to publish. If the abstract is accepted, the authors agree that their abstract can be published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence. The licence allows third parties to share the published work (copy, distribute, transmit) and to adapt it for any purposes, under the condition that AIDS 2020 and the authors are given credit, and that in the event of reuse or distribution, the terms of this licence are made clear. Authors retain the copyright of their abstracts, with first publication rights granted to the IAS.

Will there be an abstract book for AIDS 2020?

An electronic abstract book will be available free of charge on the conference website.

Where will my abstract be published?

Accepted abstracts will be published on IAS websites and publications, such as the AIDS 2020 online programme and other conference materials, the IAS abstract archive and the Journal of the International AIDS Society (JIAS).

Satellite symposia

How do I apply for a satellite?

Applications to hold a satellite are placed via our IAS Satellites and Exhibition Tracker (ISET) ordering platform, which is open from 1 November 2019 to 12 March 2020. ISET offers a simple ordering process, which requires you to sign in with a login and password. The link to ISET is available on the AIDS 2020 website from 1 November 2019.

How much does it cost to hold a satellite?

Satellite prices are available on the Satellite symposia page.

When do satellite symposia take place?

Satellite symposia will take place all day on Monday, 6 July, and in the mornings and evenings from Tuesday, 7 July, to Friday, 10 July.

What is the difference between a 120-minute and a 90-minute symposium?

Satellites are available in a number of formats depending on length (90 or 120 minutes), type (regular- or prime-time session) and room capacity (only a limited number of rooms are available for each capacity).

The 90-minute symposia will take place in the mornings only (07:30-09:00) from Tuesday until Friday.

The 120-minute regular-time symposia will take place on:

  • Monday, 6 July, at 08:00-10:00, 10:15-12:15 and 12:30-14:30

The 120-minute prime-time  symposia will take place on:

  • Monday, 6 July, at 14:45-16:45 and 17:00-19:00
  • Tuesday, 7 July, to Thursday, 9 July, at 17:30-19:30

What are the benefits of holding a satellite?

Satellite holders will have the following benefits:

  • Satellite symposium listing in the pocket programme (printed) and the online programme
  • Satellite symposium listing in the mobile app
  • A number of complimentary day passes for satellite organizers according to room capacity ordered.

How many free day passes do I receive with my satellite?

Day passes include access – only on the day of your satellite – to all conference sessions, satellite symposia, the exhibition area and the poster area. If more passes are needed, additional persons have to be registered as regular conference delegates for a fee.

The number of complimentary day passes offered depends on the room capacity ordered, as follows:

  • <300 room capacity - 5 day passes
  • 300-499 room capacity – 10 day passes
  • 500-999 room capacity – 15 day passes.
  • Satellite organizers who have booked prime-time satellite slots will be offered 20 day passes, regardless of the room capacity chosen.

When will I find out the time and date of my symposium?

The satellite schedule is the sole responsibility of the conference organizers; the schedule will be released at the end of April 2020.

Orders are placed on a first-come, first-served basis as there is a limited capacity for each room. Room capacities are estimates and may vary by 15%, depending on final conference planning.

What is included in the satellite package?

All session rooms are equipped with the following equipment:

  • Theatre-style audience seating
  • Lectern with microphone, laptop and mouse
  • Davos-style set up on stage with microphone(s) (two pax per microphone)
  • Session room screen to display a PowerPoint presentation (in some of the bigger session rooms, the speaker may be shown on the screen too)
  • Presentation timer
  • Microphones (wired) on stands for audience questions – the number of stands is subject to the size of the session room.


What is a workshop?

In the context of the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020), a workshop is an interactive session that promotes and enhances opportunities for knowledge transfer, skills development and collaborative learning.

How do workshops differentiate from symposia?

Workshops differ from symposia and other conference sessions because they:

  • Promote and enhance opportunities for knowledge transfer, skills development and collaborative learning
  • Are held in smaller rooms, which facilitates greater audience participation
  • Use interactive tools, such as small group exercises, discussion and role play, to offer a more interactive experience
  • Are targeted at specific audiences
  • Are 90 or 150 minutes in duration
  • Have at least three

How long are the workshop sessions?

Workshops can last up to either 90 minutes or 150 minutes.

How many workshops will there be at AIDS 2020?

About 30 workshops will be selected to be part of the AIDS 2020 programme.

Who selects the workshops?

The workshop reviewers are your peers: scientists, activists, policy makers, healthcare workers, community activists, educators and other stakeholders working in areas related to HIV. The reviewers are experienced and knowledgeable, and will be evaluating the strength of workshop proposals based on clearly defined criteria. When drafting your proposal try to put yourself in the place of the reviewer to anticipate the likely questions or comments they might make about the proposal. For example, you do not want the reviewers to have difficulty understanding what you propose to do and how you will do it. The best proposals will be clear, concise and rewarding to read.

The Workshops Working Group (WWG) then selects the top reviewed workshops. The WWG is made up of five members from the AIDS 2020 organizing committees, including one Conference Coordinating Committee (CCC) member, two Community and Leadership Programme Committee (CLPC) members and two Scientific Programme Committee (SPC) members. The selected workshops are placed into one of three focus areas: community, leadership or science.

Who organizes the sessions?

Submitters of a workshop proposal on the online submission system will need to designate three facilitators who will be available and qualified to animate the workshop. They will also need to nominate two back-up facilitators in the application. In addition to the facilitators selected by the applicants, a point person will be assigned by the AIDS 2020 organizing committees and the WWG, who will provide guidance in the workshop development process. The International AIDS Society Secretariat will also be supporting with the development, coordination and on-site support of the session.

May I submit a workshop proposal for AIDS 2020?

The organizers of AIDS 2020 welcome workshop proposal submissions through the online submission system available from the conference website. Submissions are open from 1 November 2019 to 14 January 2020.

How can I submit a workshop proposal for AIDS 2020?

You will need to create a  before submitting a workshop proposal. One or more proposals can be submitted through the conference profile.

To submit workshop proposals, please log in to your conference profile and click on the “Workshops” field in the Overview tab. You will see a link to enter the workshops submission system.

In the workshops submission system, please follow the steps outlined to create and submit your workshop proposal.

To navigate in the workshops submission system, please use the “Next step” buttons or the upper menu bar. For detailed instructions about the abstract submission system, please click on “HELP” in the upper menu bar.

After an abstract has been created, modifications can be made at any time until the submission deadline. After submission, the abstract submitter will receive a confirmation email. This email will contain the workshop reference number. Please refer to this reference number in all communications with the AIDS 2020 Secretariat.

When is the submission deadline for workshops?

Submissions for workshop proposals will close on 14 January 2020 at 23:59 Central European Time.

What information is required to submit a workshop proposal?

You will need to provide details on the following areas when submitting a workshop proposal online:

  • Workshop category
  • Level (foundation, intermediate or advanced)
  • Workshop title (maximum of 50 words)
  • Workshop proposal (maximum of 300 words)
  • Learning objectives
  • Format
  • Materials
  • Target audience
  • Key or vulnerable population
  • Regional focus
  • Number of participants
  • Language
  • Duration

How can I create a strong proposal?

It is important to craft an eye-catching and informative workshop title and proposal and to describe the experience of the lead facilitator.

Workshop title (maximum of 50 words): The workshop title is important. You will need to provide a clear understanding and picture of the workshop. Try to make it interesting, engaging and descriptive, in 50 words or less and in sentence case (lower case) format.

Workshop proposal (maximum of 300 words): The strongest workshop proposals will communicate a clear sense of the workshop, its goals, objectives and plans to either transfer knowledge to or increase the skills of the conference delegates. The workshop content should be current, supported by research and consistent with best practices. The best workshop proposals will follow this format:

  • Learning objectives: It can be helpful to begin by stating a need or problem to be addressed by your workshop. Specify what skills you expect participants to learn and/or be able to apply in measurable, realistic and time-bound terms. The description should engage the reader and promote interest. Learning objectives allow participants to assess what they will gain from attending your workshop and whether they will want to attend it. Workshops with clear objectives will have a better chance of being selected.
  • Format: Provide an outline of the methodology to be used in each section, from introduction to conclusion. For example, identify discussion versus small group work, case study, demonstration, role play, small group activities and problem-based learning. Also, be sure to include timeframes for each activity and provide an outline of the time allocated for each section of the workshop. A good workshop will maintain interest and utilize various interactive methods to keep participants interested and engaged throughout. We recommend that you conduct action planning with participants to ensure that delegates can follow up with you as they implement what they learned to improve their practice.
  • Materials: Specify the types of handouts or other materials that will be provided to attendees during the workshop.

Facilitator experience/expertise (200 words max): Provide details of any relevant professional experience to support your application. Consider including concrete information on subject matter expertise, presentation and communication skills, training methods and/or outcomes illustrating behaviour change. If possible, include a URL link that demonstrates the expertise of the suggested lead facilitator. Strong facilitators are essential for the successful delivery of workshops, and past experience in workshop facilitation at conferences will be considered.

When will I be notified if my workshop proposal has been successful?

All submitters (successful and unsuccessful) will be notified by email by the end of March or in early April 2020.

Global Village and Youth Programme

What is the Global Village?

 The Global Village is a diverse and vibrant space where communities from all over the world gather to meet, share and learn from each other. It intersects the main conference programme, blending scientific sessions with cultural activities, live performances, networking zones, NGO booths, marketplace booths and art exhibits. Here, communities can demonstrate the application of science and good leadership, and conference participants are invited to see how science translates into community action and intervention.

The Global Village and Youth Programme is created from public applications from a diverse range of individuals, groups and organizations for a variety of activities. It is open to the general public and conference delegates, and admission is free.

What is the Youth Programme?

Young people will play an active role in all aspects of AIDS 2020. The Youth Programme will include a variety of activities designed for and by young people, including cultural and educational performances, presentations, workshops and panel discussions. The Youth Pavilion within the Global Village will host most of the youth-related activities and will provide spaces for young people from around the world to network, collaborate and showcase achievements.

While the dedicated Youth Programme is aimed at providing a platform for young people to participate in youth-specific activities at the conference, another key objective is to promote the value of intergenerational exchange between older and younger populations of people involved in the global response to HIV. In this way, we encourage all young participants to engage in all parts of the conference programme, as well as youth-specific activities.

If my application to be part of the Global Village and Youth Programme is successful, who will pay for my travel and accommodation expenses?

Travel and accommodation expenses must be covered by organizers of the activity themselves.

Main organizers of AIDS 2020 Global Village and Youth Programme activities who need financial assistance to attend the conference are encouraged to apply for a scholarship from the AIDS 2020 Scholarship Programme. A limited number of scholarships are available; therefore, applicants are strongly encouraged to seek other or additional funding. If co-organizers of Global Village and Youth Programme activities require financial assistance, they should submit a separate scholarship application.

Visit the AIDS 2020 Scholarship page for more information. Applications for the Scholarship Programme close on 23 January 2020.

If our activity is accepted, will we receive any funds for transporting materials and setting up our activity?

There are no funds available to cover transporting materials or set-up costs. Shipment of goods, as well as the setting up of activities, is at the expense of the activity organizer(s). Advice on shipping will be provided once successful applicants accept their invitation to run their activity in the Global Village and Youth Programme at AIDS 2020.

Can I automatically access the conference if I am accepted for a Global Village activity?

A successful Global Village and Youth Programme application does not guarantee access to the whole conference programme. Successful applicants will need to register online to access the conference. Please check the conference website for more information on the registration process. The Global Village space is open and free to conference delegates and the general public.

How much space do I have for my activity at the Global Village?

This depends on the type of activity. You will find details regarding sizes of activity areas in the application form for Global Village and Youth Programme activities and in the Global Village and Youth Programme submission guidelines.

Can we ask for donations or charge for an activity?

The Global Village is a space to present activities from communities worldwide. With the exception of marketplace booths, it is not a fundraising event. It is, however, a great opportunity to get in touch with donors and leaders, to network and to exchange experiences.

What are the criteria for an activity being selected?

Selection criteria are described in the Global Village and Youth Programme submission guidelines.

Who selects the activities for the Global Village and Youth Programme?

All proposals submitted for the Global Village and Youth Programme will be reviewed by a team of nominated reviewers, who will score applications based on a blind scoring system. The programme activity reviewers are your peers: people living with HIV, scientists, activists, policy makers, healthcare workers, community activists, educators and other people who work in areas relating to HIV. Following the review period, the Global Village and Youth Programme Working Group will meet with staff from the IAS to finalize the programme for all Global Village and Youth Programme-related activities.

When will we be notified if our Global Village and Youth Programme activity proposal is successful?

Notifications will be circulated to successful and unsuccessful applicants by the end of March 2020.

Where will the Global Village be located?

At AIDS 2020, the Global Village and Youth Programme will have a presence in both San Francisco and Oakland. More details will be available soon.

Copyright 2020 by International AIDS Society