Atbalsta grupa inficētajiem ar HIV un AIDS slimniekiem (AGIHAS)+371 20207737 (ik dienu pl. 9 - 21)


AAE in Riga (20 - 21 April)
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Lella Cosmaro is a Steering Committee (SC) Member of AIDS Action Europe (AAE) and co-Chair of the European Civil Society Forum (CSF) on HIV/AIDS. In this interview she talks about her HIV-related work, the next plans of the SC and why it is important for civil society to work on dialogues with politicians and decision-makers.
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Which are currently the main challenges in fields of HIV prevention in the EU you are working on?

Unfortunately there are still many, many challenges in Europe. If we look at the EU there are issues concerning access to prevention, testing, treatment and care for undocumented migrants in many countries; the HIV infection is not under control among MSM but also in other groups; we are concerned about other infections as well, such as hepatitis, TB and STIs and we are advocating for access to treatments and affordability of medicines; we are still discussing and advocating for TasP and PrEP. This is just to name a few of the many issues needing attention.In the broader WHO European Region the big challenges are the rising epidemic among PWID and the discrimination of many key affected groups: MSM, PWID, migrants, SW, etc. We have not been successful in eliminating stigma and discrimination and this is a big issue we still need to focus on.

What are the goals of the Steering Committee and how do you plan to reach them?

The SC spends a lot of time and energy in meetings and discussions to set the goals for the network and to present them in the official documents, like for instance in the new Strategic Framework 2015-2017.We achieve goals by transforming them into concrete actions and activities and by monitoring the process along the way. Yes, we do already have a pretty good idea of the issues we will focus on during the next SC meeting which will take place in Riga in April 2015. One of the highlights of the meeting will be the possibility to meet some of the Latvian authorities and institutions and discuss HIV related issues with them. We are looking forward to this important event which will take place during the Latvian Presidency Semester.

The HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum (CSF) was established in 2005 by the European Commission to facilitate the participation of NGOs and networks. Can you give us insights about your work as co-Chair of the CSF and your experiences with European stakeholders and decision makers?

My role of co-chair of the CSF “forced” me to learn a lot about European policies and about the situation of the different countries.It is very challenging and I feel it is a great responsibility to represent civil society in many important contexts. I try to be the voice of all the groups and of all the organisations and people who work so hard on HIV-related issues. In Rome last November we, the co-chairs and the coordination team, had the chance to meet with the new Commissioner for Health - Vytenis Andriukaitis. It was a very good meeting and we were very satisfied of its outcome. It was a very important occasion for us to discuss with him about what we believe should be the priorities for the next years. We asked the Commissioner to support the realisation of an impact assessment, the necessary first procedural step toward the adoption of a new political framework – hopefully a new EC Communication on HIV and other infections. After Rome, we need to continue the dialogue and to keep advocating for our objectives.



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