On March 14, the European Commission (EC) presented the new Action Plan (AP) on HIV/AIDS in EU and neighbouring countries for 2014-2016, which builds on the achievements of the previous Action Plan 2009-2013.
The EC highlights the importance of keeping HIV/AIDS high on the political agenda and focusing on HIV prevention and awareness-raising to tackle risk behaviour, as well as early and affordable treatment and care. At EPHA we consider that the inclusion of affordable treatment in the Action Plan is the right step forward, as this was something requested by civil society in a joint declaration on access to medicines.
The different tools to promote access to medicines are outlined in EPHA’s Briefing on Access to Medicines in Europe in Times of Austerity. The EC stresses the importance of keeping HIV/AIDS high on the political agenda and focusing on HIV prevention and awareness-raising to tackle risk behaviour, as well as early and affordable treatment and care. At EPHA we consider that the inclusion of affordable treatment in the new Action Plan (AP) is the right step forward, as it was noted in EPHA’s Position Paper on Access to Medicines in Europe in Times of Austerity.
HIV/AIDS on the increase in the EU
Contrary to the global trend which shows an overall drop in new HIV infections in Europe the number of newly reported cases is increasing. In 2012, more than 131 000 new HIV infections were reported in Europe and Central Asia, 29 000 of which were reported in the EU and the European Economic area (EU/EEA). This is why the new Action Plan places a greater focus on keeping HIV/AIDS high on the political agenda, tackling HIV-related stigma and discrimination and achieving better access to voluntary testing.
EU Strategy for combatting HIV/AIDS
The overall objectives of the Communication are to contribute to reducing HIV infections across the EU, improving access to prevention, treatment, care and support, and improving the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS in the EU and neighbouring countries. The actions contained in this plan are structured in the following six key areas: (1) Politics, policies and involvement of civil society, wider society and stakeholders, (2) Prevention, (3) Priority regions, (4) Priority groups, (5) Improving knowledge, and (6) Monitoring and evaluation.
Civil Society Involvement
We welcome the Commission’s commitment on working jointly with civil society and Member States through the HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum and the Think Tank on HIV/AIDS to facilitate the planning and implementation of the response to HIV/AIDS. As Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health, stated: "I am fully committed to this cause and call on all actors – health authorities, NGOs, international organisations – to join us in putting this plan in action".
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