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Strong opposition to Trump travel ban voiced by HIV conference organizers

, by Emily Newman

CROI 2017At the largest HIV research conference held in the U.S. every year, conference organizers wasted no time in voicing their opposition to the executive order on travel signed by President Trump at the end of January.

At the opening press conference for the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), Susan Buchbinder, MD, delivered a statement on behalf of the CROI organizers.

“Because of the free exchange of information and ideas across national boundaries, as a fundamental principle of science, we reject in the strongest possible terms and without reservation the recent executive order banning entry into the United States of individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries,” said Buchbinder. “We do believe that if policies like this are not swiftly and definitely rejected, they will have serious detrimental effects on scientific research. For that reason, we will continue to speak out against this and any other policy that threatens the free exchange of scientific information or the provision of medical care wherever it’s needed.”

Susan Buchbinder

Susan Buchbinder, MD

To a packed auditorium later that evening, Buchbinder delivered a similar statement during the opening plenary session. Addressing the delegates coming from around the world to CROI 2017, Buchbinder said, “I want to let you know, that you and your contributions to scientific research and patient care are very welcome here, and will always have a place at CROI.”

CROI was established in 1993 as a forum for researchers and clinicians to present and discuss prevention, care and epidemiology of retroviruses including HIV. This year, more than 4,000 attendees traveled to Seattle, Washington for the conference—approximately 40% from outside the U.S. according to conference organizers.

“Thankfully, this misguided policy was rejected through judicial review, and we did not have to face the prospect of scientists, researchers and clinicians being turned away from attending the meeting this time. We’re not aware of any individuals who did not attend CROI or chose not to attend CROI because of the travel ban,” said Buchbinder.

Follow BETA all week for coverage of CROI 2017.

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