Friday, June 5, 2009

EATG calls for more research and funding for prevention

The European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG) has recently released a comprehensive policy paper on HIV and AIDS prevention.

As a pan-European organisation of people living with HIV, EATG has been championing the concept of prevention, especially 'positive prevention' for years. Positive prevention entails the active involvement and leadership of people living with HIV and AIDS in prevention work.

EATG chair, Anna Zakowicz, states: ”Universal access to HIV prevention as well as treatment is necessary if we are to control the HIV epidemic globally and in Europe. No single prevention intervention is ever likely to stop the epidemic by itself and EATG therefore demands a comprehensive response involving social, behavioural, biomedical and structural interventions.”

People therefore need a varied package of prevention interventions which should include access to condoms (male and female) and access to sterile injecting equipment and opiod substitution therapy in all settings including prisons, information on HIV, behavioural support and interventions, and social support. EATG emphasises that it is important not to base HIV prevention and risk decisions on assumptions about the HIV status of partners and recommends continued awareness-raising of this point.

In addition, EATG urges more scientific research, and more funding allocation for research, into behaviour change and support programmes to populations living in Europe, especially marginalised and invisible groups. EATG supports continued research into new biomedical methods of prevention such as microbicides, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), prophylaxis against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and vaccines.

EATG considers that the HIV prevention needs of people already living with the virus have been neglected. Targeting HIV-positive people for prevention help and support is an equitable and cost-effective way of preventing HIV. EATG supports methods and technologies, which help to prevent HIV transmission between serodiscordant partners who have a desire for childbirth.

EATG supports initiatives to increase the proportion of people with HIV who are aware of their status. EATG advocates for counselling for every pregnant woman and encouragement and offer of voluntary HIV testing. It is also important to combat social, legal and cultural barriers against testing and disclosure, in particular the criminal prosecution of HIV transmission and exposure.

Click here for the paper (and note that IRMA is mentioned on page 18!)

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