After more than two years of intensive planning and preparation, Melbourne will welcome thousands of delegates in just under a month for the highly anticipated 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), Chief Executive Officer of the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB), Karen Bolinger, said today.
Taking place between 20 – 25 July at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), AIDS 2014 will be the largest health and development conference ever hosted in Australia and is estimated to be worth approximately $80 million to the Victorian state economy.
Ms Bolinger said that in addition to economic legacies, AIDS 2014 would also play a major role in driving the knowledge economy and put Melbourne firmly in the international spotlight.
“The International AIDS Society announced this week that Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States and Founder of the Clinton Foundation, along with artist and activist Sir Bob Geldof, will be among the high-level speakers at AIDS 2014,” Ms Bolinger said.
“The conference will also attract doctors, researchers, people living with HIV, politicians and philanthropists from across the globe, all with one goal in mind – to end the HIV epidemic.
“MCB’s Business Development team identified the opportunity to bring the International AIDS Conference to Melbourne back in 1997, 17 years ago, so to be just a month out from this prestigious event is really exciting.
“Securing AIDS 2014 for Melbourne in 2011 was an incredible team effort – a city, state and nation-wide collaboration – just like a mini Olympic bid.
“MCB partnered with the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine and gained significant support from MCEC; Tourism Victoria; the Victorian Department of Health; the City of Melbourne; and Local Co-Chair for AIDS 2014, Head Department of Infectious Diseases Alfred Hospital and Monash University, Co-head Centre for Biomedical Research Burnet Institute and Club Melbourne Ambassador Professor Sharon Lewin, to mount the successful bid.”
Ms Bolinger said the collaborative approach to securing the bid was a major factor in the International AIDS Society’s decision to choose Melbourne as the host city.
“In addition, Melbourne was also chosen because of the strong support from the city, state and federal governments and the exceptional facilities at the host venue, MCEC.
“But perhaps most significantly, the strength of Melbourne’s scientific community and expertise in HIV research lead by Professor Lewin, was also a major contributing factor to the city’s success, which is the case for many international associations like the International AIDS Society.”
Of the international conferences MCB has secured for MCEC since the new venue opened in July 2009, 69 per cent are in the health, medical and scientific sectors.
“Melbourne’s expertise in these sectors enables conference organisers to attract preeminent speakers and create rich content, to ultimately drive delegate attendance,” Ms Bolinger continued.
“At AIDS 2014 there will be 17 speakers from Melbourne’s esteemed research institutes, including Club Melbourne Ambassadors Professor Lewin; Sir Gustav Nossal, Patron of the Nossal Institute for Global Health; and Peter Doherty, a Nobel Prize winner and Patron of the Peter Doherty Institute, due to open later this year.
“They are all world-leaders in immunology and they’re right here in Melbourne.”
Chief Executive of MCEC, Peter King said the venue was the only Australian centre capable of hosting AIDS 2014 due to its size and infrastructure.
“MCEC is a valuable asset to Melbourne in successfully hosting and delivering major events for the city and AIDS 2014 is no exception as we prepare for the event to take over the entire venue,” Mr King said.
“We’re incredibly proud to have our Club Melbourne Ambassador, Sharon Lewin, play such a significant role in bringing this conference to Melbourne and of course to the other immunology leaders from the Program who are speaking during the event.
“Over the past few years, we’ve been working closely with the International AIDS Society to help them facilitate their technology, food and beverage and operational requirements including satellite events, the Global Village and Positive Lounge.
“AIDS 2014 will make Australian history and we are very much looking forward to successfully hosting this global event in Melbourne.”