The biannual international Microbicides conference will be held in the beautiful city of Cape Town in South Africa from the 23rd to the 26th of April 2006 . The three co-chairs are proud to be hosting this event in Africa , as it is the first time the conference will be held in a developing country. The previous meetings took place in Washington in 2000, in Antwerp in 2002 and in London in 2004.
The relevance of hosting this conference in Africa is clear. Africa remains the continent most affected by the HIV epidemic and 60% of infections occur in women who are mostly infected in their teens and early twenties. Current HIV prevention methods such as abstinence, monogamy, male condoms and female condoms, are not always feasible, and there is an urgent need to explore other approaches to control the epidemic, in particular women-controlled preventative measures such as vaginal microbicides.
By hosting the conference in South Africa we aim to raise public awareness of microbicides as a promising HIV prevention technology, as well as highlighting the enormity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic especially in developing countries and in Sub-Saharan Africa. We also hope to gain African political and community support for ongoing research and development efforts. Importantly we hope to ensure increased African support and participation in the conference. We are trying to secure funding for bursaries for participants who would not normally be able to attend such international conferences such as young researchers and community advocates.
The conference promises to be bigger and better than ever before. The Microbicides 2004 conference attracted 800 delegates from around the globe. Increased interest and research effort in this area means that the 2006 Conference is likely to be even bigger, attracting around 1000 delegates.
The conference intends to provide updates on recent Microbicide research, a forum for the discussion of new developments in Microbicide research and to present opportunities for knowledge sharing between Microbicide researchers, public health workers, advocates, communities and civil society organizations. We have added in a new focus for the conference (Track D), on Advocacy and Community, we look forward to receiving abstracts and papers addressing these important issues.
We encourage you to submit abstracts on the work that you are doing. Most of all we look forward to seeing you in Cape Town in April 2006. We promise that you will not only attend a world class conference but will have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful city of Cape Town and to savour South African culture and hospitality first hand.