In my role as President, I look forward to working with scientists, trainees and community members from all disciplines to advance CAHR’s mandate of promoting excellence in HIV research, fostering constructive dialogue and collaboration, as well as mentoring the next generation of researchers and supporting knowledge translation. Today, there are many exciting innovations in research, treatment and prevention but also many challenges we face as a community to improve the lives of people living with HIV and to prevent future infections.
The cornerstone of the work of the CAHR Board is to ensure that our annual conference is an exciting event to promote Canadian HIV research excellence. Over the past 25 years, the conference has evolved to promote excellence, debate and diversity. What started out as a small annual gathering of scientists over 25 years ago is now the annual meeting place for over 800 Conference goers, made up of researchers from all pillars of research, affected community members, students, policy makers, international delegates, and other interested parties. In Saskatoon, we continued to showcase the many advances that have made inroads in tackling the disease – from insights into the biomedical complexities of the virus, to the development of advanced clinical approaches to treat HIV, to new and diverse strategies to reduce risks for individuals and communities.
While so much has changed the relevance of CAHR and its annual Conference is just as strong as it was over 25 years ago. Thousands of new infections occur each year in Canada, the number of people living with HIV in Canada is rising, and we still face many unresolved challenges including stigma, discrimination and an unwillingness to implement evidence-based policies. With this background, we will be updating our Strategic Plan over the coming year to:
- ensure that CAHR remains relevant and the CAHR Conference model reflects the changing face of the epidemic;
- explore innovative new ways to support the next generation of HIV researchers including and beyond the direct funding of studentships; and
- continue our ongoing evaluation of our workshop series so that they meet the needs of our stakeholders.
As an association, we rely on our members’ enthusiasm, shared commitment, and great willingness to learn from each other to ensure CAHR grows and evolves. CAHR is your professional organization and as President, I look forward to working with you over the next two years to represent your interests.
Dr. Carol Strike