The SLF and our partners at AIDS 2022 in Montreal

SLF Board of Directors member and Director of Stellenbosch University's Africa Centre for HIV and AIDS Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola, speaking truth to power at the opening session at AIDS 2022.

The message we heard at the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal (July 29August 2, 2022) was clear. In eastern and southern Africa, home to 54% of the world’s population living with HIV, we cannot turn our backs on the communities who shoulder the highest burden of the pandemic.

Adolescent girls and young women, men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, and trans people continue to experience unacceptably high rates of HIV. And the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased inequities and barriers to care for communities most affected.

Representatives from many of our African community partners were also in Montreal. These activists and leaders shared their first-hand knowledge of how to address inequalities and deliver effective HIV programming with the global audience of conference attendees. We were thrilled to once again connect in person!

SLF Board of Directors member Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola on a panel with Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam at AIDS 2022. The topic was: How lessons learned from the global HIV and AIDS response over the past four decades must inform the global response to COVID-19 and future pandemics. (Credit: SLF)
SLF Executive Director Meg French and SLF Board member Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola at AIDS 2022. (Credit: Jennifer Fowler/SLF)
Patriciah Jeckonia (second from left) from LVCT Health, an SLF partner in Kenya, speaks on a panel about comprehensive sexuality education. (Credit: Frontline AIDS)
UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima with Programme and Monitoring & Evaluation Assistant and Spokeswoman Limpho Nteko from mothers2mothers — Lesotho, an SLF partner. (Credit: mothers2mothers)
Jeffrey Walimba (right), Program Manager at Ishtar MSM, speaks on a panel about increasing HIV testing among men who have sex with men in Nairobi. (Credit: Jennifer Fowler/SLF)
Jessica Ellis, an SLF program manager, and Daisy Kwala from SLF partner Bar Hostess Empowerment Support Programme (BHESP) in Kenya. (Credit: Jennifer Fowler/SLF)
SLF members and managers
Njavwa Mukwavi, SLF Program Manager, Peter Njane, Director of Ishtar MSM, Jennifer Fowler, SLF Communications Director, Peter Kimani, Ishtar MSM Finance Manager, and Jessica Ellis, SLF Program Manager. (Credit: SLF)
Daisy Kwala from SLF partner BHESP, on the right, spoke on a panel about person-centred care for sex workers in Kenya. (Credit: Jennifer Fowler/SLF)
Steve Letsike, Executive Director of Access Chapter 2, Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola, Stephen Lewis Foundation Board of Directors and Director of Stellenbosch University's Africa Centre for HIV and AIDS, and Professor Madhukar Pai, a Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology & Global Health at McGill University, following a panel conversation on Anti-racism and decolonizing the AIDS response: Moving from rhetoric to reformation.
Mpolokeng Mohloai, Country Director at SLF partner mothers2mothers — Lesotho with SLF Program Manager Jessica Ellis.
Dr. Brenda Gati Mirembe, a medical doctor and Senior Investigator for MU-JHU, an SLF partner in Uganda, speaking at AIDS 2022 about barriers to HIV prevention faced by adolescent girls and young women. (Credit: MU-JHU)

Throughout the conference, HIV leaders reasserted that the AIDS response must prioritize the needs and expertise of the Global South. At the same time, the Canadian government’s delays in approving visas for conference attendees significantly limited the participation of leaders and activists from Africa, Asia, and Latin America — a shameful reflection of the colonialism that permeates the AIDS response.

Josephine Achieng of Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) and Patriciah Jeckonia from LVCT Health at an SLF-hosted reception for foundations and philanthropic HIV funders. Three of Josephine's fellow delegates did not receive travel visas to attend AIDS 2022. (Credit: Jennifer Fowler/SLF)

Speaking truth to power, SLF Board member Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola joined several panels at AIDS 2022 as a leading HIV activist, sharing this message:

“When you are funding in a colonial way, you assume that you are the creator of knowledge. You assume you are the one who knows best of what needs to be done as solutions. That then undermines local innovation. It then undermines local knowledge and intellectual capacity of communities. We have been there before you came with your dollar.”

At a gathering of foundations and philanthropic HIV funders, hosted by the SLF and Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA), the SLF reiterated our Call to Action for anti-colonial funding of HIV-related community-based care, and our five funding principles to support community-led organizations and shift power into their hands.

All photos below by Lacey Johnson/Glassroth Creative Strategies, unless otherwise indicated.

Keynote speaker, SLF Board member, and Director of Stellenbosch University's Centre for HIV and AIDS, Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola.
SLF Executive Director Meg French.
Josephine Achieng of Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP).
Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) Interim Executive Director Sarah Hamilton.
FCAA Interim Executive Director Sarah Hamilton speaking with delegates from Ukraine.
Delegates from Ukraine.

Ruth Awori, Executive Director at Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV, and mentor at SLF partner MU-JHU's Young Generation Alive.

Juliane Etima, Ruth Awori, Josephine Nabukenya, and Dr. Brenda Gati Mirembe from Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) partner MU-JHU attend a reception hosted by the SLF and Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) at the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal.
SLF Board members, Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola and Josephine Etowa, and SLF Executive Director Meg French, and SLF Board member Notisha Massaquoi. (Credit: Jennifer Fowler/SLF)
UHAI EASHRI Programme Manager, Eastern Africa, Wanja Ngure at the reception for philanthropic funders at AIDS 2022.
SLF partners at AIDS 2022: Peter Kimani, from Ishtar MSM in Kenya, Jamal Kyana from HAPA Kenya, Jeffrey Walimba from Ishtar MSM, and Josephine Achieng from Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme attend an SLF-hosted reception for philanthropic AIDS funders. (Credit: Jennifer Fowler/SLF)
SLF Executive Director Meg French, Program Managers Njavwa Mukwavi and Jessica Ellis, and Senior Manager of Advocacy Healy Thompson. (Credit: Jennifer Fowler/SLF)
Health Development Initiative-Rwanda Executive Director Dr. Aflodis Kagaba speaking with SLF Executive Director Meg French.
SLF Board members, Josephine Etowa, Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola, and Notisha Massaquoi.

At the 24th International AIDS Conference, SLF staff joined the chorus of calls for Canada to pledge its fair share to the 7th Replenishment of the Global Fund to End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: $1.2 billion. (Credit: Jennifer Fowler/SLF)

Our Stephen Lewis Foundation team left Montreal energized and deeply committed to continuing our support for our community-led partners and their crucial and effective work in combatting the HIV pandemic, and walking hand in hand to a future free from AIDS.