Highlighting the need for a science and people centred approach in the AIDS response

03 August 2015

The AIDSImpact 2015 conference held in Amsterdam from 28 to 31 July has heard appeals for the better integration of behavioural and psychosocial scientific research in the AIDS response. Researchers from around the world presented the latest findings in behavioural and psychosocial science related to HIV prevention, treatment and care, focusing both on the global level and on specific countries and communities hardest hit by the epidemic.

The conference promoted pioneering work on understanding the dynamics of a changing epidemic. There was a particular focus on new opportunities for HIV prevention thanks to the increased availability of biomedical interventions as well as of increased HIV-testing options. The key to their future success, however, lies in understanding the behavioural and psychosocial consequences, advantages and challenges in integrating such programmes within different global contexts.

Fast-Track cities

The Fast-Track cities approach was also covered during a special session on “The Tale of 3 Cities” where health officials from Sao Paulo, Amsterdam and San Francisco shared their experiences of the AIDS response. All three cities are signatories to the Paris Declaration, which commits authorities to putting their cities on the Fast-Track to ending the AIDS epidemic.   

During the conference, the economic returns of the Fast-Track approach were also discussed. Each dollar invested in ending AIDS by 2030 can generate more than US$ 17 in net returns.

Focusing on key population groups

Participants also discussed issues faced by key population groups, with a particular emphasis on the gay community and men who have sex with men. Participants heard that stigma and discrimination continue to be a major obstacle to the Fast-Track approach.

Delegates heard that the Internet and other new technologies are increasingly important in the AIDS response, offering opportunities for innovative HIV prevention programmes. 


“By signing the declaration, Amsterdam has committed to locally implement local strategies for local people. Our commitment to the elimination of HIV at city level is embodied in the Joep Lange initiative that we have launched.”

Eric Van der Burg, Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam City

“If we don’t accelerate the AIDS response in the next five years, we will not end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. It is not enough to rely only on biomedical science. We need behavioural science for a people centred approach to ensure that no-one is left behind.”

Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS

“The Netherlands is committed to the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic and to ensuring that no one is left behind in the response”.

Reina Buijs, Dutch Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs