"I don't think the location has any particular effect on research at American universities," says Alan G. Fein, executive director of the AIDS Institute. "There will be just as many opportunities for research, although there will be somewhat less of an opportunity to showcase research here at Harvard."
A Political Move?
Local activists have alleged that during the months of uncertainty about what the federal policy would be, more was behind the move than has been acknowledged by government officials.
Some AIDS activists say that with the International Conference taking place in Amsterdam, protesters would be deprived of a forum in the U.S. that would attract the attention of the American media.
"It's quite likely that [President] Bush is consciously avoiding further conflict with ACT UP," Kolko says, "although it remains to be seen whether the conference taking place in Amsterdam reduces pressure on Bush from these activists."
Kolko says that he thinks Bush is now aware that he must face ACT UP protests, thanks to one staged at the President's summer home in Kennebunkport, Me.
And some experts express hope that the current travel restrictions will soon be dismantled.
"I heard that the government is trying to remove the restrictions," says Volberding, who is president of the German-based International AIDS Society. "It would be too late for this meeting. But we still hope they'll do it and the conference will come back to the U.S."