Why HIV Prevention?
We have not yet succeeded in eliminating HIV transmission; rates of HIV diagnoses remain high among key populations in the EU/EEA region. Key populations include men who have sex with men (MSM), people who use drugs and migrants from high-endemic countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. The key to effectiveness in HIV prevention is coverage and quality, and prevention has brought some positive results in the region.
However, harm reduction interventions do not operate everywhere they are needed, and stigma and discrimination still persist. Combating these issues is vital for achieving high rates of testing and access to treatment, which improves health and reduces viral load and therefore infectivity. As well as having specific prevention needs, people living with HIV also have a large contribution to make to HIV prevention and programs and projects.
Why focusing on Quality?
For decision makers, establishing causal links in complex systems of human behaviour, quantifying sufficient program scale and distinguishing between ineffective approaches and ineffective implementation are difficult. Experts highlight implementation quality as a key factor in the effectiveness of HIV prevention: It is not enough to do the right things, we need to ‘do the right things right’.
Why Quality Action?
Quality Action contributes to the implementation of the EU policy on HIV: ‘Combating HIV/AIDS in the European Union and neighbouring countries (2009 -2013)’. The overall objectives of this EU Communication are:
- To reduce new HIV infections across all European countries by 2013;
- To improve access to prevention treatment, care and support; and
- To improve the quality of life of people living with, affected by or most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS in the European Union and neighbouring countries.
The EU Communication calls for EU and Member State policy responses that meet the challenges of prevention, focus on priority areas and most at risk populations and improve the knowledge base through better cooperation and knowledge transfer among stakeholders. The policy sets out that the current HIV epidemic and expected future trends are best addressed through:
- Scaling up the implementation of prevention strategies that effectively target local realities and needs while working towards ensuring universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support;
- Supporting an effective response to HIV/AIDS in priority regions, such as the most affected EU Member States, the Russian Federation and the most affected neighbouring countries; and
- Developing means to reach and support the populations most at risk and most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS across Europe.
These principles guide the inclusion of prevention projects and programs to participate in the practical application of QA/QI tools as part of Quality Action.
Please visit the EU Health Portal to learn more about how the EU promotes HIV prevention and what kinds of EU policies have been put in place. An overview of activities and policies can also be found on the website of DG SANCO.