Deputy President David Mabuza has delegated the Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, to lead the South African delegation to the 22nd International AIDS Conference taking place in Amsterdam, Netherlands, from 23 to 27 July 2018.

The Deputy Presidentˇ¦s delegation came as he joined President Cyril Ramaphosa as South Africa hosts the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.

ˇ§Through Minister Motsoaledi, the Deputy President has conveyed his sincere apology to the conference and especially to more than 500 South African delegates consisting of AIDS activists, researchers, scientists, government officials, HIV/AIDS ambassadors as well as premiers, deputy ministers and MECs who are in attendance,ˇ¨ said The Presidency in a statement.

South African Ambassador to the Netherlands, Bruce Koloane, has welcomed all members of the South African delegation to Amsterdam on Monday, 23 July, urging them to be positive ambassadors for South Africa and to make a strong country impression to this global gathering.

South African delegates have already taken part in some of the AIDS 2018 Conference sessions, including ones on HIV Prevalence and Prevention as well as on Key Populations in Africa.

The International AIDS Conference takes place under the theme ˇ§Breaking Barriers Building Bridgesˇ¨. It is the largest conference on any global health issue in the world.

First convened during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1985, it continues to provide a unique forum for the intersection of science, advocacy and human rights. Each conference is an opportunity to strengthen policies and programmes that ensure an effective response to the HIV epidemic.

The 2018 conference provides 18 000 conference delegates with the latest HIV research, as well as an opportunity to reflect on key issues facing both the HIV sector and the broader global health community.

The conference is hosted by the International AIDS Society (IAS), the worldˇ¦s largest association of HIV professionals, with members from more than 180 countries. IAS members include researchers, clinicians, policy and programme planners, and public health and community practitioners.

As South Africa and the world mark the centenary of Mama Albertina Sisulu and Tata Nelson Mandela this year, South Africaˇ¦s exhibition stand reflects and honours their significant contributions to the HIV and TB response.

The stand has been dubbed ˇ§Vilakazi Streetˇ¨, the Soweto street where the homes of two Nobel Peace Prize laureates ˇV South Africaˇ¦s first democratically elected president, the late President Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu ˇV are found.

ˇV Source: SAnews.gov.za