The European Regional Session focused on efforts to address pressing issues through multi-national organisations and coalitions covering EU member states, non-EU European countries, and neighbouring countries outside of the WHO European region.
The “HIV in Europe” initiative is a coalition of public health, civil society and related organisations working together. They are looking at the growing numbers of Europeans who do not know they are HIV+ and the problems of late testing. Through examination of barriers, best practices, and better linkages they hope to improve counseling/ testing practices throughout the European region. The initiative also continues their previous work utilizing the stigma index and on criminalisation.
The European AIDS Clinical Society issues treatment guidelines, updated every 2 years. Guidelines are translated into 13 languages, recognising the different economic and regulatory treatment scenarios across Europe. The guidelines are based on a philosophy that “treatment has to serve the individual.” In addition to issues such as acute infection, initiation of ARV, and management of co-morbidities, EACS guidelines are also able to respond rapidly to emerging issues (for example, issuing guidelines for treatment of acute HCV infection when a European outbreak was detected among gay men in a number of countries in the region).
The EU HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum convenes 33 civil society organisations in the EU and neighbourhood, enhancing participation in policy, prevention and human rights. Working along with the Think Tank, the CSF facilitates direct dialogue between civil society and policy makers, and has influenced EC plans/guidelines, responded to situations in individual countries and identified best practices
Edwin Bernard and Angelina Namiba described the current state of HIV criminalisation laws/ prosecutions in Europe, and highlighted a number of successful responses to HIV criminalisation. In England and Wales, civil society and prosecutors worked together to develop policies and guidance, resulting in greater understanding of HIV in the criminal justice system.A variety of tactics to mobilise communities and change law/policy have been used, including the Netherlands (court overturned law), Norway (creation of independent commission to recommend changes to Parliament), Denmark (law suspended after advocacy campaign), Switzerland (“Swiss Statement” on transmission used by courts to overturn law), and Sweden (coalition campaign is urging government review of the law). They also highlighted the “Oslo Statement” on HIV criminalisation issues.