The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) says South Africa and the global community can expect a productive, safe and exciting conference.

The committee met in Durban on Thursday to assess South Africa’s state of readiness to host the International AIDS Conference to be held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban from 18 to 22 July 2016.

This is the second time Durban will host the International AIDS Conference, which was previously staged in 2000.

This year’s conference will be held under the theme “Access Equity Rights Now”.

Appointed by President Jacob Zuma, the committee — chaired by Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe — comprises a broad range of Ministers, including KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu and eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo.

“This conference brings together political leadership, civil society leadership, the scientific community, the development and donor sector and ordinary people who are committed to achieving an HIV-free generation.

“The opening ceremony sets the tone for a conference that will reignite advocacy in our own country and around the world and will help us make new strides to secure – in line with the conference theme – access, equity and rights for all people in our pursuit of prevention, treatment and the elimination of discrimination,” said Radebe.

The IMC also received updates on logistics around the ICC, as well as the adjoining Global Village that will provide free public access to a range of conference events.

The IMC gave the assurance that this event, where close to 18 000 delegates are expected in the glare of global media coverage, will be safe.

“Security agencies have developed detailed plans for high-visibility deployment of police and other personnel, who will ensure the safety of delegates and minimal disruption of traffic and other services and amenities around the host city.

“Plans are also in place to facilitate secure passage of conference delegates through South Africa’s major airports and land borders,” said Radebe.

The IMC meeting also welcomed this week announcement by Cabinet that Deputy President Ramaphosa will on 13 July lead the marking of the five-day countdown to AIDS 2016.

Citizens are invited during the next few days and on the day of the countdown to wear black, white and red clothing — the official colours of the conference — and to engage with one another via #5days to #AIDS2016 on social media.

Organisations are invited to display HIV-related educational information and provide services at various strategic points of their choosing around the country.

The IMC concluded its visit to Durban by participating in a youth dialogue on HIV and AIDS at the Hilton Hotel, where over 100 youths were gathered to exchange ideas with the IMC on how to realise the goal set out in the National Development Plan of a long and healthy life for all South Africans.

The NDP also states that by 2030, South Africans should commit to prevent and control epidemic burdens through deterring and treating HIV/AIDS.

The dialogue was a direct engagement with youth, who are future leaders and captains of industry in the country. The dialogue participants also deliberated on opportunities that government has availed for the youth.

“South Africa is indeed well prepared to host this critical global conference, which must leave a meaningful legacy to our own country and to the world,” said Radebe.