Day one of the AIDS Conference
The President of the International AIDS Society Dr. Julio Montaner and President of the Austrian AIDS Society, Birgitte Schmied, welcomed the delegates to the conference. The opening session also included plenary presentations on the state of the AIDS epidemic.
The conference serves as an important meeting place for the authorities, researchers and organisations working in the field of AIDS. Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Deputy President South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe, Executive Director of UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) Michel Sidibé, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli and Austrian Minister of Health Alois Stöger were also present.
UNAIDS Special Representative
The theme of the conference, Rights here, right now, emphasises the importance of taking a rights-based approach to HIV/AIDS.
Singer, songwriter and activist Annie Lennox, who was recently appointed a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, sang and gave an address at the opening ceremony at the Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center in Vienna.
Crown Princess Mette-Marit was appointed a UNAIDS Special Representative in April 2006. Her work in this role focuses on strengthening youth leadership in the AIDS effort. The youth perspective is a key issue at the conference.
The AIDS Conference
The conference lasts until Friday 23 July. During the course of the week a series of lectures, seminars, exhibitions and concerts will be held.
Former US President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, and Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health for the Republic of South Africa, are two of the 19 keynote speakers at the conference.
The conference is being convened by the International AIDS Society (IAS), in partnership with a number of global, regional and local partners. The IAS is the worlds leading independent association of HIV professionals. Its members include both health workers and people directly affected by the AIDS epidemic.