Commission presents blueprint to fight HIV/AIDS over the 2006-2009 period
On 1 December 2005, the European Commission today adopted a Communication on combating HIV/AIDS within the European Union and in the neighbouring countries 2006-2009. This follows up on the Commission working paper on a Coordinated and integrated approach to combat HIV/AIDS adopted in 2004.
The Communication focuses on key issues such as the involvement of civil society: fostering dialogue with stakeholders such as patients, NGOs and the private sector is central to boosting the impact of any HIV/AIDS strategy. A stronger focus on prevention is also necessary, as contrary to some perceptions the epidemic is on the increase in Europe and basic messages on prevention need to be restated, especially among high risk groups and young people. The Communication also addresses issues including surveillance, treatment and research and details concrete projects in an Action Plan for the period 2006-09.
Involving civil society
The Commission will foster dialogue with HIV/AIDS patients and NGOs, and invite business organisation such as European Union of Industrial and Employers Confederations (UNICE) and other corporate players to strengthen their response to the epidemic and play a key role in implementing the EU strategy against HIV/AIDS.
The Commission, in co-operation with Member States, neighbouring countries and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), will support collection and processing of data on the epidemic, to help create an integrated surveillance system with full geographic coverage, with estimates of HIV incidence in Europe, and sentinel surveillance for high-risk groups.
Prevention of new HIV infections
The Commission will promote prevention programmes, especially for most vulnerable populations, with a priority for safe sex and a specific focus on young people and mother-to-child transmission. It will address transmission risks linked to drug abuse, and promote education, including training for health care professionals.
Counselling, testing, treatment, care and support
The Commission will promote access to health services such as antiretroviral therapies, and voluntary counselling and testing, to help reduce stigma and social exclusion, and monitor the possible development of drug-resistant strains.
The Commission is committed to boosting its research funding for HIV/AIDS, in particular in the area of vaccines and microbicides, and affordable therapeutics and diagnostics.
These include regions, such as the Russian Federation, where the epidemic is widespread and growing. It also covers countries such as Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Morocco, and Jordan. The Commission will invite those countries to discuss how to deal with the epidemic in a co-ordinated way through the HIV/AIDS think tank and Civil Society Forum.
The Action Plan annexed to the Communication identifies projects for each priority area. They focus on exchange of best practices, training and awareness-raising programmes