Australia’s Sharon Lewin new President of the International AIDS Society

The International AIDS Society (IAS) has welcomed Australian researcher Sharon Lewin as their new President and Beatriz Grinsztejn from Brazil as their President-Elect.

IAS leadership also expressed deep gratitude to Adeeba Kamarulzaman (Malaysia) who steps down as IAS President and assumes her role as immediate-past President.

Lewin, a world-renowned infectious diseases physician and basic scientist, is also the inaugural Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital,

Addressing delegates at the closing ceremony of AIDS 2022, the 24th International AIDS Conference, Lewin outlined her vision and explained why she remains an optimist about the strength of the global HIV response.

“AIDS 2022 has made it clear once again: progress happens when we come together and unleash the power of our movement. That is why the IAS exists. That is why we need to double down on our efforts to unite the voices of activists, policy makers and scientists,” Lewin said.

In her speech to delegates at the conference Lewin highlighted that there had been many positives highlighted during the gathering and recently approved injectable PrEP treatments have the ability to make a global impact on the amount of new HIV transmissions.

“At AIDS 2022, we also celebrated Botswana for surpassing the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets, virtually eliminating HIV in a country once listed as the heart of the epidemic. And we discussed game-changing prevention tools, including long-acting injectable PrEP, giving people more options and choices. The evidence is clear: long-acting injectables must be available globally!” Lewin said.

Adeeba Kamarulzaman said Lewin was the right person to be taking over the guidance of the organisation.

“At AIDS 2022, we called on the world to re-engage and follow the science, and I can think of no better leader than Sharon to champion this cause and assume the leadership of the IAS,” Kamarulzaman said of her successor.

“These past two years, as another pandemic overtook the planet, Sharon’s pioneering HIV cure research and analysis have become even more important, providing a roadmap for the global response to COVID-19.”

Similarly, Lewin expressed her admiration for Kamarulzaman and her leadership of the IAS over the past two years. 

“Adeeba has spent decades challenging stigma, dismissing taboos and shattering glass ceilings,” Lewin said. “She brought this tenacity to her two-year term, leading the IAS through the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and a historic era, including our first-ever hybrid conference.

“As a woman in science, I look forward to the day when two consecutive female presidents isn’t remarkable – but today it is and I’m proud to be a part of this new era.” Lewin said.

AIDS 2022, the International AIDS Conference has run over the past week in Montreal, Canada and has brought together researchers, health workers, and people with lived experience of HIV.

Graeme Watson 

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