This year’s Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences will once again be hosted in a virtual format in 2021, following the success of last year’s inaugural virtual conferences.
This decision was not made lightly, as we understand the importance of face-to-face engagement for both delegates and presenters. Other options were considered in this process however the size and multi-themed nature of this conference meant that a smaller hybrid or hub style event was neither feasible nor economical.
However, after extensive consultation internally and with the conference committee and stakeholders, the following key issues informed our decision to go virtual again:
- Safety - Despite positive early reports regarding the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, we are also hearing of new strains and lapses in public health standards and want to ensure the safety of our delegates and the public.
- Stability – The ongoing air of uncertainty around government restrictions, lockdowns and border closures has made it difficult to make affordable and reliable arrangements for venues and accommodation, especially keeping in mind interstate and international visitors.
While we regret any disappointment this may cause, we also have the example of last year’s successful virtual conferences to show that there is both interest and value in hosting virtual alternatives. With that in mind we are looking at ways of increasing engagement and shaking up the format, as follows.
An expanded format
We'll be offering more live content via concurrent sessions, closer in format to a traditional conference, with a focus on including more abstracts in the live program.
New networking opportunities
We know how important meeting in person is to delegates, and so we are working on a model of local social hubs for networking to take place in major cities. Of course, this is still subject to impact by COVID-19, but our goal is to host simple events that allow delegates to network face-to-face.
Once again, we want to thank last year’s 830 delegates and hope to see you and many more in attendance. We’ll be in touch over the coming weeks and months with more information on the revised virtual format.
If you would like any more information on key dates or the conferences, be sure to visit the official conference website.