I am honoured to officially begin my two-year term as President of the Canadian Association for HIV Research.
The last few years have been a struggle for all Canadians, as we faced a pandemic that shared some parallels with the early days of HIV: facing an unknown virus as it spread across the globe, witnessing the resolve of individuals and community groups, and being in awe at the power of research to make great strides in our understanding of the virus and in the development of effective treatments and vaccines.
As the HIV research community gathered for the first time in four years at CAHR 2023 in Quebec City, I believe many of us felt a renewed energy and optimism in being able to gather face to face once again. This was further enhanced by seeing so many early career professionals, the next generation of researchers, showcasing their posters and presenting their oral abstracts for the first time to such a wide audience.
In the coming years, I look forward to working with all members of Canada’s HIV community 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. CAHR is a membership driven organization and I look forward to working with all of you — researchers from all pillars of research, community members, students, policy makers, health care professionals and program implementers.
In the face of this renewed hope, CAHR remains as relevant today as it was when it was created in 1991. With over 38 million people living with HIV globally, and thousands of people across Canada (WHO), we still face major challenges such as stigma, discrimination, and accelerated rates of HIV in Indigenous and ACB communities which remain to be addressed. And the quest for an HIV vaccine remains elusive.
With that, CAHR will remains committed to supporting research excellence by:
- ensuring the CAHR Conference model reflects the current realities of the epidemic;
- hosting new researcher workshops throughout the year that allow aspiring researchers to learn from mentors, enjoy grants crafting sessions and receive updates from funders;
- offering support to the HIV community as a whole by running workshops on community-based research, launching additional online learning practicums in CBR and other areas of research, and offering scholarships for those wanting to attend the annual conference; and
- maintaining its focus on open and transparent communications with its membership.
As we look ahead, CAHR will continue to stay relevant, relying on what has become a hallmark of the association: its members’ enthusiasm, shared commitment, and great willingness to learn from each other.
CAHR is your professional organization and as President, I look forward to working with you, and learning from you, over the next two years to represent the interests of Canadian HIV researchers.
Dr. Marissa Becker