HIV/AIDS Think Tank

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Report from the 9th meeting of the HIV/AIDS Think Tank
15 -16 November 2007

1. EU action plan on HIV/AIDS

The progress from a Commission perspective was presented and discussed. It should be a living document and the status should be updated regularly. Leadership and advocacy major roles for EC, permanent process. Several chapters in the action plan need more attention in the future. EMCDAA to be included as partners, willing to contribute to review.

Action: send action plan to all partners for comments and input. Recast of action plan for 2nd semester 2008.
2. Post Bremen – affordable ARV initiative

The process was illustrated by German Ministry of Health and further outlined by the BG representative. The goal is a reduction in costs for ARVs in BG and other pilot countries in Eastern Europe, difficulties in this context are of course internal market rules. Second goal included in the package is a sharpening of prevention activities. Good cooperation so far between Trio-Presidency, EC service, national NGOs, and pharmaceutical industry. The CSF asked to be included directly in the process. The process was welcomed by the TT members.

Action: present follow-up at next TT meeting.
3. the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in the context of the European Union health and development cooperation: an update on results, resources and challenges.

An overview on financing and challenges of GF was provided. EC support from 2001-2010 is about 1 billion $ either directly though EC budget or through European Development Fund.
The four major challenges for the near future are to keep on going with support to programs that produce results, fine-tune eligibility criteria, maximize the role of the Civil Society, and create an "impact on disease". Main concerns of TT members were on rigid eligibility criteria, affecting mainly Eastern Europe, and on European contribution to the GF work.
Next: continue dialogue with GF

4. Next EU presidencies: activities on HIV/AIDS

SLO: nothing foreseen, WHO proposed to finance conference on MSM and HIV/AIDS during Slovenian Presidency. France: no final decision yet. Sweden: interested in possible activity.

5. Sexual Health – SAFE Project

The project, funded through the Public Health Action Program, was presented by IPPF-EN. The project developed policy recommendations for sexual health policies and calls i.a. for a proper integration on sexual health and HIV/AIDS programs, e.g. in the context of voluntary testing and counseling. The inclusion of migrant aspects in such policies was identified as top priority.
6. HIV/AIDS surveillance in Cyprus (1986-2007)

A comprehensive overview of activities in the low HIV prevalence country Cyprus was presented by the CY representative. The main problem is the restricted access of services into MSM communities. CY could enhance the exchange of good practices to better reach the groups most at risk and to intensify prevention measures.

Next: continue with presentation of comprehensive HIV/AIDS policies

7. HIV/AIDS and migration

The subject was a priority of the Portugese Presidency. The Portugese representative presented the outcome of the National AIDS coordinators meeting in Lisbon, October 2007, and reiterated that there will be no conflict with the role of the Think Tank. Future meetings will be technical meetings and could be framed in the work of the respective Presidency. Civil Society presented their paper on migration and HIV/AIDS, which comprise policy recommendations. A major goal would be the free movement of people and the free access to treatment and care services. Three priorities identified by a conference in June 2007 and the subsequent work were: removal of deportation of PLWHA to regions where treatment is not available, capacity building in community based organizations, and research and data to gain a better insight in real situation of migrants. Civil Society inquires for the creation of an EU agency on mobility and migration and to include AIDS and mobility into the renewed EU action plan.
8. HIV/AIDS in Ukraine

UNAIDS and a national NGO presented their views on the situation re. HIV/AIDS in Ukraine. More than 600.000 people live with HIV/AIDS in the country (prevalence of 1.46%). Main problems are e.g. the non availability of a functioning substitution therapy (integration of services in general, importation of bad quality substitution medication), or the performance of the Country coordinating mechanism. ARV treatment is financed until end 2007 by Global Fund means for 7800 PLWHA.
Funding of a public response is a general problem; a possibility would be the enforced use of European Neighbourhood Policy (ENPI) Instrument funds, and a reinforced bi-lateral assistance through international organizations. Furthermore, policy advice should be strengthened.
Next: EC plans a workshop in co-operation with Ukraine in 2008; report back to EC services (RELEX) on situation in Ukraine as presented here.

9. UNAIDS / WHO report on Dublin declaration – status and progress

An overview on the UNAIDS/WHO draft report was provided; the final document is expected for beginning 2008. Already now, may interesting findings were presented, and conclusions drawn, such as, e.g. political leadership in the response to HIV/AIDS is needed and needs to be shown, the involvement of the community and the private sector is primordial, VCT is an important and serious element for a successful prevention and treatment.

10. ECDC: HIV work plan

The role and the function of the ECDC in the response to HIV/AIDS were outlined and misunderstandings on e.g. surveillance and data transmission were resolved. CSF inquired why the ECDC would not be willing to better collaborate, and if a plan on MSM was foreseen in the future. The ECDC was invited to present further views and their general views in the next meeting.

Next: invite ECDC's director to spring meeting.