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Preventing HIV/AIDS (Council conclusions of 2005)

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The HIV/AIDS epidemic and the related underlying phenomena fuelling the spread of the epidemic are common. The Council therefore adopted a series of conclusions encouraging the Member States and the Commission to step up their efforts to tackle the epidemic.

ACT

Conclusions of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council of 3 June 2005 on combating HIV/AIDS [Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

Current situation

The HIV/AIDS * epidemic and the related underlying phenomena fuelling the spread of the epidemic continue to be a major threat to public health. AIDS causes human suffering and disability, increases the risk of social exclusion, and has negative implications for national economies.

As well as continuing to strengthen existing methods to prevent the disease, it is still necessary to further develop research, surveillance, and methods for effective intervention.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is fuelled to a great extent by social factors, such as inequality between women and men, poverty and social marginalisation of the most vulnerable populations.

Effective prevention of the epidemic requires increased cooperation between the Commission, Member States, accession, candidate and neighbouring countries, and international organisations such as UNAIDS *, with the participation of people living with HIV/AIDS and the civil society concerned.

European framework for AIDS prevention

The Council's conclusions are based on a series of measures and conferences related directly or indirectly to AIDS prevention, in particular:

  • the Council Recommendation of 18 June 2003 on the prevention and reduction of harm associated with drug dependence;
  • the declaration adopted following the Conference "Breaking the Barriers - Partnership to fight HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia" (Dublin, 23/24 February 2004), which called for the European Union's capacity to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS to be strengthened;
  • the "Vilnius Declaration" adopted following the Ministerial Conference "Europe and HIV/AIDS - New Challenges, New Opportunities" (Vilnius, Lithuania, 17 September 2004), highlighting the need for joint efforts to strengthen comprehensive prevention activities and build effective partnerships between governments, civil society and the private sector;
  • the Commission working paper of 8 September 2004 "Coordinated and integrated approach to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic within the European Union and in its neighbourhood";
  • the Communication from the Commission, COM(2004) 0726 final, of 26 October 2004 on a coherent European policy framework for external action to confront HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Action at national level

In light of the above, the Council encourages Member States to adopt measures to:

  • implement the Dublin Declaration and the Vilnius Declaration;
  • implement national multi-sectoral HIV/AIDS coordination structures, strategies and financing plans;
  • raise public awareness of prevention of HIV infection and provide better information on sexual and reproductive health *;
  • take further action to promote safer and more responsible sexual behaviour and practices, including condom use, and scale up access for injecting drug users to prevention, drug dependence treatment and harm reduction services;
  • counsel and support people with the virus, their families and their friends, and maintain a respectful, non-discriminatory and accepting societal atmosphere and behaviour towards people with HIV/AIDS;
  • develop a sustainable, affordable, and accessible health care system as a basis for prevention, treatment, and care activities, and ensure that all those in need have access to affordable anti-retroviral * treatment;
  • improve cooperation between clinical trials in the continuing search for HIV-vaccines and microbicides;
  • continue to work closely together with the European Commission and other relevant international organisations and agencies when planning and agreeing specific bilateral actions in the context of neighbourhood and development policy.

Action at Commission level

The Council calls upon the Commission to:

  • support Member States in their efforts to implement the Dublin and Vilnius Declarations;
  • contribute to efforts to improve general knowledge and to raise public awareness of prevention of HIV infection;
  • contribute to activities intended to establish a respectful, non-discriminatory and accepting societal atmosphere and behaviour towards people with HIV/AIDS;
  • facilitate the use of existing EC financing instruments for the implementation of comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategies within the Member States and in neighbouring countries;
  • promote investment in the appropriate research and development of effective behavioural and risk-reducing as well as prophylactic measures and cure;
  • encourage the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to further reinforce and coordinate activities on the surveillance of communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS;
  • facilitate collaboration between the Member States, accession, candidate and neighbouring countries and relevant international organisations in order to promote the exchange of good practices and joint projects;
  • promote dialogue and cooperation with countries at regional and global levels, as well as with international organisations such as UNAIDS.

Key terms used in the act

  • HIV: the acronym HIV stands for "human immunodeficiency virus".
  • AIDS: the acronym AIDS stands for "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome".
  • UNAIDS: UNAIDS is a partnership between various United Nations bodies, the World Health Organisation and the World Bank. As the main advocate for global action against HIV/AIDS infection, UNAIDS leads, strengthens and supports an expanded response to the epidemic in order to: prevent transmission of HIV; provide care and support; reduce the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV/AIDS infection; alleviate the impact of the epidemic. It plays a crucial role in managing and disseminating knowledge and information on the epidemic and on global action.
  • Reproductive health: reproductive health refers to a series of conditions, events and processes which occur during life, from smooth sexual development, intimate sexual relations and motherhood to abuse, illness, disability and death. It is closely linked to a person's values, culture and vision of the future. Reproductive health thus covers not only family planning but also areas such as sex education, safe pregnancy, control of sexually-transmitted diseases and incorporation of an approach based on gender equality.
  • Antiretroviral treatment: the objective of antiretroviral treatment is to achieve maximum reduction in viral load for as long a period as possible in order to keep the disease in check. The treatment therefore does not rule out HIV. It involves several different drugs and must be continued throughout life.

RELATED ACTS

Regulation (EC) No 851/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 establishing a European Centre for disease prevention and control [Official Journal L 142 of 30.04.2004].

Council Recommendation of 18 June 2003 on the prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug dependence [Official Journal L 165 of 03.07.2003].

Regulation (EC) No 1568/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 July 2003 on aid to fight poverty diseases (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria) in developing countries [Official Journal L 224 of 06.09.2003].

Communication from the Commission of 21 February 2001 to the Council and the European Parliament - Programme for action: accelerated action on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the context of poverty reduction [ COM(2001) 96 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 03.09.2007

See also

Further information available on the European Commission's Public Health website.

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