International Charitable Organization “East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV” (ECUO) is a regional “network of networks” connecting PLWH communities form 15 EECA countries to increase communities’ impact on expanding access to treatment, care and support through strengthening of capacity of PLWH organizations and advocacy efforts at national and international levels.
In 2005 HIV/AIDS epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia expanded to such scale that literally each country of the region founded its own movement of HIV-positive people. Various events were held aimed at improvement of life quality of people living with HIV but most of them were isolated from regional and international initiatives.
The lack of coordination between PLWH communities in the field of advocacy; lack of expert “peer-to-peer” assistance, low organizational capacities were main barriers for implementing country activities on a higher level. Therefore, the necessity of founding a strong regional PLWH union effectively participating in development of policies and procedures where human rights is a basis for overcoming HIV/AIDS epidemic in EECA region emerged.
The first meeting of PLWH organizations representatives
The first meeting of PLWH organization representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Moldova took place in Kyiv, in June 2005. UNAIDS Secretariat and the All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH supported the initiative to establish this regional union.
Registration of the international charitable organization “East Europe and Central Asia Union of PLWH” (ECUO)
The international charitable organization “East Europe and Central Asia Union of PLWH” (ECUO) was registered in 2007. The composition of the Union included 14 countries, which eloquently spoke about topicality and timeliness of such initiative.
In 2007-2009 ECUO together with its partners (EATG, EHRN, ITPCru, the All-Russian Union of PLWH) made a study "Access to ARV-therapy in 7 countries of CIS"
It was the first try of civil society of the region to collect data and assess impact of existing systems of planning, funding and procurement of medicines for treating HIV-infection at access to ARV-treatment in 7 countries of EECA region.
The Community Advisory Board of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA CAB) was created
ECUO together with ITPCru created the Community Advisory Board of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA CAB) to join efforts of PLWH in the region on scaling-up access to treatment and support, as well as securing direct dialogue between PLWH community, representatives of pharmaceutical companies and regulatory agencies at regional level.
As a result of successful participation in the international HIV/AIDS conferences – EECAAC 2009 and AIDS 2008 – ECUO was selected to be regional partner of XVIII International HIV/AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) in Vienna
We were responsible for official outreach of the conference in EECA countries. Thanks to the regional campaign “We are dying less but we are dying faster” that we conducted together with the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPCru) and supported by Oxfam Novib, the messages of PLWH community were heard by world leaders about EECA region as the only region having no decrease of HIV prevalence and where mortality rates caused by AIDS are on the rise.
Work with HIV-positive adolescents
Since 2010 ECUO focuses special attention on HIV-positive adolescents. The regional group of parents and guardians, who raise HIV-positive children was created with the support of the regional UNICEF office to protect their rights.
Regional Leadership Program for adolescents affected by HIV
In 2011 the Regional Leadership Programme for adolescents affected by HIV from 7 countries of the region was initiated and later the same year two adolescents participated in the panel discussions during the International Forum “Millennium Development Goal 6 – Overcoming HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases”.
EECA Region in the UNGASS Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS
Thanks to active involvement of ECUO and effective work of PLWH member-organizations, partner organizations and other stakeholders, EECA region was reflected for the first time in the Political Declaration of the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS adopted in June 2011.
Initiation of cooperation of regional networks in the EECA region
A Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between the EastEurope and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO), the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN), the Eurasian Women's Network on AIDS (EWNA), the Eurasian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ENPUD), the Network of Organizations for Protection of the Rights of Sex Workers (SWAN), the Eurasian Coalition for Men's Health (EKOM), the International Coalition on Preparedness for Treatment in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ITPCru), the Regional Network of Legal Assistance to People Affected by HIV/AIDS, regional technical support center in the EECA region (Alliance-Ukraine Consultancy), the European Stop TB Coalition.
Community networks of EECA countries prepared a report "Eastern Europe and Central Asia: do not leave us without an answer" and presented it at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York
Based on the data of the prepared report, Michel Kazatchkine, the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the EECA region, together with civil society representatives and ECUO, held a meeting with the ministers of health of the UN member states in the EECA region to discuss the immediate actions in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
A regional consultation was held with representatives of civil society organizations on the development of a Community Regional Action Plan for 2017-2020
Consultations with representatives of public organizations, regional networks and communities representing the KAPs in the EECA region. UN agencies and international organizations (WHO, UNAIDS, UNICEF, Population Fund, Médecins Sans Frontières and others), management of public health systems and KAPs of the EECA region.
The ECUO at the 21st International AIDS Conference AIDS 2016 in Durban
Representatives of the region and ECUO once again reported on the challenging situation with HIV/AIDS in EECA, the need to ensure a qualitative transition to public funding, interruptions with medication supply, non-transparent procurement mechanism, procurement at unreasonably high prices, and drew attention to the Report of the Regional Networks "EECA: do not leave us without an answer! "
First community-led monitoring of procurement prices for ART is implemented
in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
Launch of the "MinusVirus" specialized online media
A strategy was developed and the first regional specialized Minus Virus portal was launched in the format of the online information hub (media outlet). The website daily updates information on the latest HIV/TB / hepatitis news, accumulates news from the EECA community networks websites and other specialized resources, contains blogs and interviews with activists from the region, and acts as a rich resource library, containing publications from the strategic information for use in advocacy for access to treatment.
Launching a pilot database of ARV drugs arv.ecuo.org
The database contains information on the medications purchased in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) countries, both for state budget funds and funds of international organizations. These databases are available online at arv.ecuo.org.
The position statement on the application of European approaches to HIV treatment in EECA countries was published, sparkling broad discussions on this issue
It resulted in the revision of the WHO recommendations for HIV treatment and the publication of an extraordinary policy brief.
The first internship on ARV procurement in UNICEF
23 experts (state officials and NGO activists) from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Latvia, Tajikistan, Moldova, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine participated in the internship. The meeting focused on the best practices of the region in the advocacy for price reduction of HIV medications procurement and expanding access to innovative drugs.
Google authorized Minus Virus portal in the official media news feed
Number of website visits doubled
The team of 9 regional networks of EECA communities consolidated their efforts in the campaign against stigma and discrimination "Chase Virus not People!", launched during AIDS2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The organizers of the campaign are the ECUO, the EECA Alliance of Sex Workers, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), the Eurasian Women's Network on AIDS (EWNA), the Eurasian Coalition on Men's Health (ECOM), the Eurasian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ENPUD), the Teenergizer Eurasian Association of Teenagers and Youth, the Network for the Protection of the Rights of Sex Workers (SWAN), AFEW International.
During the conference, the EECA community networks booth was visited by over 13.5 thousand activists from all over the world; actions were supported by opinion leaders and representatives of international organizations; 54 events were held at the regional location; more than 100 organizations supported the campaign; the campaign gained more than 3,200 mentions in the media #chasethevirusnotpeople
We are the Union of PLWH organisations, an inspiring and educational resource for the PLWH communities in their promotion as leaders, equal professionals responsible for overcoming HIV/AIDS epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).
Increase the influence of the PLWH community on improving access to timely, comprehensive and quality treatment, care and support for adults and children living with HIV in EECA countries through effective partnership and active advocacy efforts.
We are the like-minded people consolidating the PLWH community in EECA Region.
We believe that every person living with HIV is eligible to have equal access to quality treatment and social and medical services, regardless of age, gender, nationality, religion, race, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability, and other characteristics for which discrimination is possible.
We are the union of organizations open for cooperation with any public, state and commercial organizations sharing ECUO mission, vision and values.
We strive for responsible partnership; hence, one of the main indicators of our work is activity transparency.
We develop PLWH community through knowledge exchanges, skills and expertise formation, training and practice, in order to use a highly professional approach to work based on personal experience.