Health security and infectious diseases

HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis

The global objective under target 3.3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seeks to end by 2030 the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and combat hepatitis, among others. The EU has shown its commitment to play its role in this important endeavour by supporting actions and policies in Member States to improve their response to these three epidemics and reach the SDGs.

EU policy action

EU action against HIV/AIDS has a long history, with viral hepatitis and tuberculosis initially considered as HIV co-infections and gradually taken up as diseases in their own right.

The EU first delivered a policy instrument to address HIV/AIDS at European level in 2005 with its Commission communication on combating HIV/AIDS. This was the basis for EU action from 2006 to 2009.

With HIV/AIDS remaining a public health concern and a political priority for the European Union and neighbouring countries, a second Communication on Combating HIV/AIDS in the European Union and neighbouring countries was adopted in 2009.

This Communication stressed the importance of scaling up the implementation of prevention strategies, supporting an effective response to HIV/AIDS in priority regions and developing the means to reach and support the populations most at risk across Europe. It sought to give political impetus to the fight against HIV/AIDS, engaging all relevant stakeholders in Member States, civil society and industry to undertake action related to prevention, priority regions and groups, improved knowledge, monitoring and evaluation.

The 2009 Communication was accompanied by 2 successive action plans

In 2015, the world leaders agreed on global for action to end by 2030 the epidemics of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and to combat viral hepatitis under the SDGs. With these global targets in place, the EU expressed its political commitment to support EU countries in reaching them in the 2016 Communication on Next Steps for a Sustainable European Future.

Ahead of the 22nd International AIDS Conference, in 2018, the European Commission published a Staff working document, showing the EU-level state of play, policy instruments and good practices to combat HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis in the European Union and the neighbouring countries.

The staff working document takes stock of the EU support to Member States across several policy areas: public health, research, drugs policy, development cooperation, accession and neighbourhood policy, European structural funds, etc. It also presents EU-funded good practices related to early diagnosis, encouragement of testing, wider outreach to vulnerable groups, integrated care across the diseases, rapid linkage to care, treatment as prevention, health promotion and support to networks and civil society organisations.

EU health financed programmes

The EU also funds projects and activities directly through the EU health programme. Actions supported by the EU Health programme have helped to develop and implement good practices for attaining international commitments to end AIDS and tuberculosis and reduce viral hepatitis. Their main themes and focus relate to

  • promoting early diagnosis for HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis, including the reduction of late presenters as well as interventions addressing the needs for improving treatment as prevention
  • integrating treatment and care, ensuring access, integrated diagnosis and case management, bridging health services in the community and health services, including prison health care
  • supporting civil society for their specific involvement in the response against the diseases

The Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) manages projects on HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis since 2003.

Cooperation

For 15 years (2005-2019), the Commission had set up 2 bodies that were meeting twice a year to help with policy implementation and strengthen cooperation between countries, civil society and international organisations.

The HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis Think Tank (TT) was a forum of representatives from national health authorities of EU and EEA countries to exchange information and to strengthen cooperation. The Think Tank has played an important role in defining priorities for HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis policy.

The HIV/AIDS, viral Hepatitis and Tuberculosis Civil Society Forum (CSF) was an informal advisory body enabling the participation of NGOs and networks in European policy development and implementation. The CSF provided advice to the Think Tank and the Commission.

In 2019, these groups have been closed in their current format. Nonetheless, the Commission continues holding discussions on specific aspects regarding HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis policy implementation and facilitating the exchange of best practices through appropriate mechanisms, including the Health Security Committee, as well as dedicated networks on the EU Health Policy Platform.

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