Kyiv will host a HIV #PARTNERSHIP forum on improving access to HIV treatment in the EECA region

In July 2018, the problems of the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia were widely discussed by the world community at the 22-nd International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Amsterdam. Regional community networks reported stigmatization of key groups as a key barrier to overcoming the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the “Chase the Virus, not People” campaign, which resounded globally.

On October 22-24 of the same year the results of the regional program “Partnership for the Equal Access to the HIV Services Continuum for all Who Need it in the EECA region” will be summarized. A regional program coordinated by the East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO) was implemented in 15 countries of the EECA region with the financial support of the Global Fund in 2016-2018.

In Kyiv, the regional forum “#PARTNERSHIP in HIV/AIDS Response: the Experience and Achievements of the EECA Countries” will bring together more than 100 stakeholders – representatives of communities from East Europe and Central Asia, NGO activists, experts, researchers, health care professionals, doctors, scientists, politicians, government officials and representatives of international agencies, initiatives and organizations. The forum will focus on the progress and existing key barriers impacting the effectiveness of the regional response to the challenges posed by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including: shrinkage of donor funding for HIV prevention and treatment programs; stigma and discrimination; criminalization of HIV transmission in a number of countries in the region. To participate in the forum, journalists from countries where the program was implemented will be invited.

You can follow online brodcast on ecuo.org.

“Over the 3 years of the program, we had to overcome many barriers: we went through all the stages of building complex and intersectoral cooperation, successfully steered out of the management crisis associated with discontinuation of relations with the main regional partner, that is, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network, amid the most intensive phase of work, etc. But first and foremost, we managed to implement a number of effective initiatives in the countries, together with regional partners and the consortium of NGOs, aimed at expanding the state financing of HIV-service programs. We initiated a regional dialogue on improving the quality of life of people living with HIV and on providing all PLWH with innovative ARV medications with minimal side effects. The first regional online database of ARV medicines procurement prices was compiled by the PLWH community representatives in 15 countries of the region; thereafter the regional Minus Virus platform was created which quite soon became recognizable at the regional level”, notes Vladimir Zhovtyak, Co-Chairman of the ECUO.

The forum will present the experience of ten country consortia of non-governmental organizations advocating for the right to health of representatives of key populations affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Estonia. This is the first regional level partnership program aimed at ensuring an effective response to the challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in EECA countries, supported by the Global Fund and coordinated by the East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO) in 2016-2018.

“During these 3 years we cooperated with a large number of different organizations in the region for the benefit of people living with HIV. The Partnership allowed us to consolidate existing experience and best practices on access to HIV treatment from the whole region. And now we all are facing the highest degree of responsibility. The right to health, to modern treatment, to a better quality of life for PLWH in all countries of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia should be ensured − there should be no discrimination and selective approach. All people are equal”, Wojciech Jerzy Tomczyński, co-chairman of the ECUO, states.

We should note that the event envisages discussions on the following topics:

  • Considering the outcomes of the advocacy for expanding access and funding services related to HIV in 10 countries of the program;
  • Lessons learned while implementing the project tasks, such as,
    Monitoring of the quality of services by communities, the role of communities in monitoring access and quality of the ART;
    Stigma and discrimination in the access to services;
    Government funding of HIV-servicing and other CSOs;
    State procurement of the ART.
  • Considering the succession between the achievements of the Partnership project and the new advocacy tasks in the EECA region.
  • Discussion gaps in the regional advocacy efforts.
  • Discussion and adoption of a Project resolution summarizing the advocacy achievements of the project in the countries of the region and recommendations for the subsequent advocacy initiatives in the EECA countries.
  • Chase the Virus not People campaign.
  • Minus Virus – online portal on access to treatment.

The event agenda will be available in September 2018 on ecuo.org.