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In July 2014, after more than two years of extensive planning and preparation, more than 13,000 delegates from 170 countries converged on Melbourne as the city played host to Australia’s largest ever health conference: the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014).

This was the first International AIDS Conference to be held in Australia. The conference provided a platform for policymakers, people working in the field of HIV, people living with HIV and individuals committed to ending the pandemic to present new scientific knowledge and engage in dialogue on the issues facing the global response to HIV.

The International AIDS Society (IAS) chose Melbourne as the host destination for AIDS 2014 because of the city’s collaborative approach; the strong support from city, state and federal governments; and the exceptional facilities at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The strength of Melbourne’s scientific community and the local expertise in HIV research were major factors in the event’s success. The Melbourne Convention Bureau worked closely with the IAS right through to the event, particularly in facilitating contacts who could ease the visa approval process and drive attendance.

The reach of AIDS 2014 was extended through the City of Melbourne’s cultural program, which consisted of more than 160 events involving more than 200 local businesses. This was the largest city-wide activation in the history of the International AIDS Conference.