aidsfocus news

aidsfocus news
February 2018

Feb 22, 2018


In many places an end is still not in sight...

Dear aidsfocus readers,

“Fear is the overriding emotion of a drug user in public in Russia. Every encounter with the police or other authorities represents a threat and can change your life forever.” At the Action against AIDS Germany conference in Berlin in late November 2017, Russian journalist Alexander Delfinov delivers a vivid description of his experiences within a Russian system that treats human rights with contempt. The activist, who has for some years been living in Germany from where he supports HIV and drug education work in Russia, considers the current situation in his country to be intolerable: they treat you like “animals”; as drug users you have “absolutely no human rights”.

An Egyptian activist reports similarly on the situation of homosexuals in his country. And in his case too, he evidently finds it difficult to put his experiences into words. Homosexuality may not illegal in Egypt but a law against “sexual debaucheries” enacted in 1961 is being consistently misused by the state to harass people with an alternative sexual orientation. Stigmatisation and criminalisation are the order of the day: if you are suspected of homosexuality you have to endure anal examinations when visiting HIV prevention and healthcare facilities. And you risk being arrested.

“The end of AIDS will not happen by itself!” conference held on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the founding of Action against AIDS Germany focused on some of the biggest challenges with regards to the end of AIDS. Alongside concerns about the massive decrease in funding (2016 returned us to the position of 2010), human rights abuses and stigmatisation of HIV-infected people and those with alternative sexual orientations still top the list of priorities. Even for Germany, the internationally collated Stigma Index paints a bleak picture: 70% of those infected fear revealing their status and a quarter of those who dare to take the step report having had bad experiences, frequently at medical facilities. Clearly we are still many miles away from achieving general equality of treatment even in Europe. Of particular concern is the situation of social minorities in Eastern European countries, above all in Russia. Read more about this in our Topic of the Month.

With the title “Gender-Based Violence: Approaches and Challenges at Community and Advocacy Level”, our MMS/ symposium on 2 May 2018 is also focusing on human rights violations. Don’t miss it! We would be delighted to see you there! You can register here.


Martina Staenke
Communication Manager, Medicus Mundi Switzerland

Topic of the month

Russia’s HIV and Drug Policies: Misguided and Ignorant - In 2016, new diagnoses of HIV in Europe reached a new high. The Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organisation (WHO) speaks of alarming numbers and a growing epidemic. Eighty percent of new infections occurred in Eastern European countries. This is the highest annual number that has ever been diagnosed in Europe.


Information from the Swiss community of practice

Glanzlichter der EACS-Konferenz 2017

Aids-Hilfe Schweiz - Alle zwei Jahre findet in einer europäischen Grossstadt der wichtigste europäische HIV-Kongressstatt: die Konferenz der European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS). Heuer versammelten sich vom 25. bis 27. Oktober in Mailand mehrere tausend Personen, um die neusten Fortschritte inder HIV-Medizin zu diskutieren.


Im Reservoir. Wo HI-Viren schlummern

Swiss Aids News - "Wir haben einen bunten Straus an interessanten Artikeln für Sie in den Swiss Aids News aufbereitet. Das Heftmotto «Im Reservoir – wo HI-Viren schlummern» geht der Frage nach, so sich das HI-Virus versteckt, wenn es nicht mehr aufspürbar, also undetectable ist, sich aber gleichwohl noch im Körper befindet.


International news

Preventing and treating HIV in Saint Petersburg

UNAIDS - "According to the Centre for AIDS Prevention and Control in Saint Petersburg in the Russian Federation, fewer people are becoming infected with HIV in the city. “Ten years ago, Saint Petersburg was among the top five most affected cities in the Russian Federation. Now it is only the 14th most affected,” said Denis Gusev, Head Physician of the AIDS centre. “Saint Petersburg is the first urban metropolis in the Russian Federation where a steady decline in new HIV infections has been recorded,” added Vinay P. Saldana, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.


AIDS 2018: Programme Preview

AIDS 2018 - Developed by an international committee of HIV scientists, global leaders, policy makers, researchers and advocates, the AIDS 2018 programme will offer symposia, workshops and interactive sessions. See what you can expect in Amsterdam.


Are We Really Prepared To Stop HIV?

The Huffington Post - "Is it right to continue to limit or stagger access to PrEP to those at highest need in England when it is available freely on the NHS in Scotland and Wales? This weekend (9/10 February) in Amsterdam European healthcare workers, activists, advocates and policy makers are at a conference discussing how they can facilitate HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) more widely across European countries.


HIV and AIDS activism in Africa

POSTERITY - "At the just-concluded 2018 Partners Forum that held from February 13 -15, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza, Johannesburg, South Africa, participants were taken through an Advocacy 001 class. The lecture sounded very much like what advocacy should be – planned, with timelines and targets, adequately funded with measureable targets. Sadly, the history of HIV and AIDS activism in Africa was not such structured campaigns.


Not remotely refreshing: global health fund criticised over Heineken alliance

The Guardian - "Campaigners condemn decision of chief fundraiser for HIV, TB and malaria to enter partnership with Heineken. A global health fund has come under severe criticism over its decision to partner with Heineken, a move campaigners warn will “undermine and subvert” alcohol policy implementation in Africa.


Making the World Safe from the Threats of Emerging Infectious Diseases

The Global Fund - "I am relatively new to the world of global health, having spent most of my career in business and finance. Yet starting in 2015, I spent a good portion of my time at Harvard working on issues relating global health security with the U.S. National Academy of Medicine and with the World Bank. And with my new role as Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the career switch is complete – from banking to global health in under three years! (From a speech delivered at the Prince Mahidol Award Conference in Bangkok, Thailand on 1 February, 2018)


Video: The sky is the limit - "Ntsiki is a Community Adolescent Treatment Supporter (CATS) providing peer-to-peer information, counselling and support to adolescents and young people living with HIV in Swaziland.


Put the power in your hands

TEDx Talks - "Dr Nneka Nwokolo shared with the TEDxEuston community her wish to prevent African women from getting HIV needlessly. As a HIV consultant, she has witnessed in her practice how a ground-breaking pill called PrEP can help stop the spread of HIV amongst African women in addition to the traditional preventative methods such as condoms. This is a game changer that put’s choice and power into the hands of women who are at risk of getting HIV on the continent and its diaspora.


WHO to develop app for HIV testing guidelines

World Health Organisation - "The Department of HIV is developing a new smartphone and tablet app for its guidelines on HIV testing services (HTS) and related information. To gain an insight into user preferences regarding content, design, features and resources for the app, WHO is conducting a short survey.


Vigilance in Tackling Drug Resistance in the Global Battle Against HIV

The Global Fund - "Today, an estimated 20.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS are on antiretrovirals (ARVs), up from 7.7 million in 2010. Although access to HIV treatment has grown dramatically, 15.8 million people living with HIV/AIDS are still not on treatment today. Getting people on treatment is not only important in allowing HIV-positive people to live full lives, but also because “treatment as prevention” is a key pillar in the global fight against the disease. Yet a recent Lancet article shows that an increase in ARV drug resistance is posing a significant threat to progress to date, and to our ability to end the epidemic.


Reports and Studies

Focus on HIV in prisons vital to end AIDS

WHO - "Globally, more than 11 million people were incarcerated in prisons in 2016. Over-represented among this population are the people most vulnerable to HIV, including people who use drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and others who are most marginalized in communities.


In Women’s Eyes: Key Barriers to Women’s Access to HIV Treatment and a Rights-Based Approach to Their Sustained Well-Being

Health and Human Rights Journal - "There is rightly a huge global effort to enable women living with HIV to have long productive lives, through treatment access. However, many women living with HIV experience violence against women (VAW), in both domestic and health care settings. The ways in which VAW might prevent treatment access and adherence for women has not to date been reviewed coherently at the global level, from women’s own perspectives.


International technical guidance on sexuality education

UNAIDS - "The International technical guidance on sexuality education (the Guidance) was developed to assist education, health and other relevant authorities in the development and implementation of school-based and out-of-school comprehensive sexuality education programmes and materials. It is immediately relevant for government education ministers and their professional staff, including curriculum developers, school principals and teachers.


Supporting children, adolescents and young people living with HIV to start and stay on HIV treatment - "This case study is informed by the experiences of Africaid, a private voluntary organisation in Zimbabwe. Through its peer-led Zvandiri programme, Africaid provides differentiated HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for children, adolescents and young people across the HIV cascade.


HIV, the Law and Human Rights in the African Human Rights System: Key Challenges and Opportunities for Rights-Based Responses — Report on the Study of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

UNAIDS - "The present study is a significant contribution to efforts to advance rights-based responses to HIV in Africa and globally. UNAIDS is privileged to have contributed to this report, and we look forward to working with the African Commission, States, civil society and other partners to promote this study and support the implementation of its recommendations, which constitute a milestone in our efforts to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 and to leave no one behind.


Realizing the potential of routine viral load testing in sub-Saharan Africa

Journal of the International AIDS Society - "The global HIV response has been remarkably successful. More than 19 million persons living with HIV (PLHIV) have accessed life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the annual number of HIV-related deaths and new HIV infections have both plummeted. As countries strive to reach the UNAIDS 90:90:90 targets (i.e. for 90% of PLHIV to be aware of their diagnosis, 90% of those who know their diagnosis to receive ART, and 90% of those on ART to have durable viral load suppression, new guidelines, tools and implementation strategies are vitally important.



Sexuell übertragbare Infektionen in der Schweiz: Aktuelle Studien und Präventionsmassnahmen

Bundesamt für Gesundheit, 8. März 2018, Bern - Das Schweizer HIV&STI-Forum richtet sich an Präventionsverantwortliche aus den kantonalen Gesundheits- und Erziehungsdirektionen, an Projekt- und Programmverantwortliche, Forschende und Fachpersonen aus dem Bereich Sexuelle Gesundheit sowie an weitere Interessierte.


Une exposition de la CRS

Swiss Red Cross, exposition, Geneva, 9 March-31 October 2018 - Que diriez-vous de partir pour une destination lointaine? De mettre le cap sur ces contrées dont la Croix-Rouge suisse (CRS) aide les habitants à se prémunir contre les risques naturels et les épidémies?


Gender Based Violence: Approaches and challenges at community and advocay level

MMS/ conference, 2 May 2018, Bern - Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a main issue in international health cooperation. GBV is not only a human rights violation, it has also great social and economic impact and hampers health, education and poverty reduction programs.


AIDS 2018

The International AIDS Society, 23/7/2018, Amsterdam - The International AIDS Society (IAS) announced that Amsterdam, Netherlands will host the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018). AIDS 2018 is expected to bring together some 18,000 participants from around the world. “The Netherlands is a great example of what happens when a government supports outstanding science and embraces evidence-based HIV programmes in combination with a robust commitment to human rights,” said Chris Beyrer, President of the IAS.

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