Request for Expression of Interest Review of the International AIDS Conference Governance & Associated Processes

Posted by Maria on March 13, 2019 at 8:32 am

Founded in 1988, the International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world’s largest association of HIV professionals, with members from more than 180 countries. IAS members work on all fronts of the global response to AIDS, and include researchers, clinicians, policy and programme planners, public health and community practitioners on the frontlines of the epidemic.

The IAS organizes the world’s two most prestigious HIV conferences, each convened biennially in alternating years. In addition, the IAS programmes advocate for urgent action to reduce the global impact of HIV, including increased investment in HIV cure research; optimizing treatment and care for infants, children and adolescents with HIV in resource-limited settings; preventing and treating
HIV-related co-infections; and expanding access to prevention, treatment and care for key populations with increased vulnerability to HIV – such as men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers and transgender people – including protecting their human rights by combatting punitive laws and discriminatory policies.

The Governing Council is the executive body of the IAS. It approves the annual budget and presents financial and other information to the General Members’ Meeting at each International AIDS Conference and each IAS Conference on HIV Science. The role of the Governing Council is to establish the guiding principles and policies for the IAS; to delegate responsibility and authority for enacting the principles and policies, to the extent permitted by Swiss law and the IAS bylaws; to monitor compliance with those guiding principles and policies; and to ensure that IAS Secretariat staff and Governing Council alike are held accountable for their
performance. More information on the IAS can be found at


About IAS Conferences and their governance structures

With policy and science evolving at a rapid pace, opportunities for education, networking and the promotion of best practice are critical to enhance the global response to AIDS. Through its renowned conferences, the IAS provides an essential forum for a broad spectrum of HIV professionals to share their expertise and real-world experiences, and identify remaining knowledge gaps.

The International AIDS Conference (IAC) is the premier global platform to advance the response to HIV. As the world’s largest conference on HIV and AIDS, it uniquely brings together scientists, policy makers, healthcare professionals, people living with HIV, funders, media and community to share the latest knowledge and advocate for effective action to fight HIV and related epidemics. Since its start in 1985, the conference has served as a critical juncture to address the most urgent challenges and leave behind a lasting impact. The 23rd International AIDS Conference – known as AIDS 2020 – will take place 6 to 10 July 2020 in Oakland and San Francisco, US. It is expected to attract over 20,000 participants from more than 170 countries. For more information about the next
conference, visit

The International AIDS Conferences are organized by the IAS together with four other permanent partners: the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO), the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW), and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). They are joined by representatives
of various HIV stakeholder groups at the global, regional and local level in the Conference Coordinating Committee (CCC) which directs the organization of the conference. The CCC and its sub-committees are subject to the rules laid out in the Conference Charter which is updated for each conference.

The IAS also holds the IAS Conference on HIV Science, the world’s most influential meeting on HIV research and its applications. Started in 2001, this biennial conference presents the critical advances in basic, clinical and operational research that moves science into policy and practice. Unlike the IAC, the IAS HIV conference is wholly owned and managed by the IAS. A 15-member Scientific Programme Committee oversees conference programme development, while the competitively selected local conference co-chair plays a significant role in government and partner outreach in the host country and city. A separate 5-person Community Engagement Board (CEB) composed of international and local representatives of community organizations supports the shaping of the conference. The next conference will be held in Mexico City, Mexico, 21 to 24 July 2019. For more information, visit

HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P) is the only global scientific conference focused exclusively on the challenging and fast-growing field of biomedical HIV prevention research. The conference is organized every two years, with HIVR4P 2020 to be organized 11 to 15 October 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. A sub-committee of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise Advisory Group is responsible for the selection of conference locations, for the approval of an initial budget and the appointment of Programme Organizing Committee (POC) which determines the theme and vision of the conference, develops the scientific programme and helps in the promotion of the conference. More information on HIVR4P can be found at


The IAS is seeking proposals from a consulting firm (or consultant) for a participatory review of IAS conference governance. The focus of the review will be on the IAC, with elements of IAS and HIVR4P conferences to be taken into account as appropriate. The review is to assess alignment with industry standards for world–class conferences, including but not limited to governance structures, roles and responsibilities of the constituencies, processes such as city selection, programme development, appropriate information/disclosure flows, transparency, communication and the effectiveness and efficiency with which the conference committees are able to carry out
their role. This should be viewed within the context of the unique position of the International AIDS Conference as a best-in-class industry leader and also take into account matters of conference size, timing, format, frequency and related financial implications.

The review will provide recommendations for reforms of structures and practices in line with global trends of the HIV epidemic, international best practice on good conference practice, and industry standards for the International AIDS Conference. It shall also identify areas of reform that could be applied to the other two conferences.

Specifically, the objectives of the review are to:

  1. Analyse the governance of the International AIDS Conference, determining if the current  composition of the conference permanent partners and committees reflects the rich diversity of stakeholders in the HIV response and proposing adjustments to structures and membership, if necessary
  2. Review the areas of responsibility and decision making of the IAS Governing Council, the IAS secretariat, and the conference committees in relation to conference governance, and suggesting adjustments, if necessary
  3. Assess the size, frequency, format and timing of the conference in the context of the current HIV response, alongside other conferences and industry trends, determining if the configuration of the conference reflects the needs of the field
  4. Evaluate the selection process of the conference host city, including reviewing and making recommendations for a rotational pattern
  5. Identify specify ways in which to apply any relevant recommendations from the above points to the IAS Conference on HIV Science and HIVR4P


The review should be carried out in a highly participatory and transparent manner.

Desk review
The IAS will make a range of governance and related documents available to the selected consultant.

Focus groups
The consultant is expected to organize a series of focus groups (ca. 10 participants per group) across different world regions that include a mix of representatives of all constituencies in the HIV response. These focus groups should include current and previous IAS Governing Council members (especially IAS Governing Council officers), IAS secretariat staff, conference partners, key opinion leaders, representatives of community networks, political leaders, donors, academics, clinicians and other HIV service providers, alongside current AIDS 2020 opposition leaders. The IAS will make suggestions regarding participants which should be supplemented by the consultant as appropriate. Where possible, these focus groups should be organized in conjunction with other meetings or conferences to realize synergies with regard to time and cost.

Public survey
A public consultation process should be suggested for broadly engaging all stakeholders in the response to solicit feedback on the issue areas being raised in the focus groups. This consultation could manifest as a form posted on the IAS website or a survey sent out through public listservs and mailing lists. The consultant shall, in collaboration with the IAS Communications Team, prepare communication on this engagement opportunity to be posted on the IAS website and circulated through IAS and partner mailing lists, and suggest additional channels for outreach to ensure broad participation in the consultation.

Key informant interviews
Proposals should list relevant institutions, groups and individuals to be approached for additional insights and a process to solicit these.

The entire process should unfold over the next year with a draft report submitted in November 2019, followed by a final report in April 2020, consolidating feedback from the IAS Secretariat and Governing Council.

The specific methodology and timeline for the focus groups, public consultation and key informant interviews should be outlined in the proposal.


The consulting firm or consultant will be responsible for providing the following deliverables across the project period:

  1. A detailed workplan including lists of participants in focus group and key informant interviews, by 15 May 2019
  2. A report with preliminary findings and initial recommendations completed by 8 November 2019. The report should summarize the results of the various consultations and desk review and make initial recommendations regarding:
    • Updating the IAC structure to better reflect the current landscape of the HIV response and to be better positioned to address the current objectives of the HIV response
    • Improving and streamlining governance processes c. Potentially modifying the size, frequency and timing of the conference, in light of the impact on the HIV response, key stakeholders, and financial implications for IAS
    • Considerations for adapting the host city selection process, including the criteria evaluated, decision points and makers, transparency, etc. in a way that maintains IAS’ leadership and furthers transparent relationships with all stakeholders
  3. Presentation of the preliminary findings/recommendations at the IAS Governing Council meeting in London, United Kingdom, and facilitation of a discussion on/or around 9-11 December 2019
  4. A draft report (maximum 30 pages) that responds to the discussion at the Governing Council meeting, including findings, conclusions and tiered recommendations, completed by 28 February 2020
  5. A final report consolidating feedback to be submitted by 17 April 2020.

Proposal requirements

As a first step, the bidding consultant(s) should prepare a two-page expression of interest relating their experience to the IAC review, outlining the major questions or issues that will inform the review, and providing an initial estimate of the level of effort required to undertake the assignment. Expressions of interest are due by 29 March 2019.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 5 April 2019. If shortlisted to submit a full proposal, the consultant should prepare the following:

  • A cover letter summarizing experience with this type of work and the rationale for the
    proposed approach to the review
  • A detailed plan outlining the approach, timeline and costs
  • Two samples of recent work of a similar nature.

Shortlisted consultant(s) will be given access to various background documents to aid in refining the central questions and hypotheses guiding the review.

Full proposals are due on 29 April 2019. We expect to finalize the selection of the consultant/s during the first week of May 2019.
The following skills and qualifications are required:

  • Proven track record in participatory review processes and assessing organizational and decision making/accountability structures
  • Knowledge and experience of good governance in a variety of sectors, particularly in the not-for-profit sector, ideally within health and HIV
  • Nuanced experience and familiarity with global health structures, notably HIV  Strong understanding of the International AIDS Conference and the history of and stakeholders in the HIV response
  • Demonstrated track record in delivering on time, with a high degree of professionalism and ethical standards
  • Fluency in English is required. Working knowledge of French and/or Spanish is an advantage.
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