Montreal AIDS conference organizer warns of 'catastrophe' if delegates denied visas

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MONTREAL — Organizers of a major AIDS conference in Montreal next month say hundreds of delegates from Asia, Africa and Latin America are in limbo because the Canadian government has not issued them visas.

Those who have either been denied visas or have not received a response from the government include researchers scheduled to present their work and delegates who received scholarships to attend the conference.

Dr. Jean-Pierre Routy, a professor of medicine at McGill University and local co-chair of the AIDS 2022 conference, says at least 400 delegates who received scholarships to attend the conference are still waiting for visas — about a third of all scholarship recipients.

He says the government needs to act before it is too late for those delegates to book flights, adding that it would be a "catastrophe" if they were unable to attend the conference scheduled to take place from July 29 to Aug. 2.

Jonathan Ssemanda, a PhD student at Makerere University in Uganda who is scheduled to present his research at the conference, says he has heard nothing since he applied for a Canadian visa more than two months ago.

He says it's frustrating to see colleagues from non-African countries getting their visas approved while he continues to wait.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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