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Friday, 28 April 2017
Brussels, 30 November 2004

To mark World AIDS day on 1 December, this background note summarises legislative actions and programmes financed by the European Union to increase understanding and awareness of HIV/AIDS issues.

Political leadership in the fight against AIDS in Europe:

Fighting the resurgent epidemic on the European continent requires governments to make HIV/AIDS a key priority. The EU is determined to provide political leadership for a coordinated continent-wide effort against the disease.

Fighting HIV/AIDS in the developing world

Girls and women carry a heavier burden and are affected more often and at an earlier age by HIV/AIDS than men. The situation is particularly dismal in Sub-Saharian Africa, where almost 57% of the adult population infected by HIV/AIDS are women. Higher rates of poverty among women, the lack of education leading to lower literacy rates, a lack of access to effective prevention tools, the pervasive effects of gender inequality, and sexual violence inside and outside marriage make women more susceptible to get infected. In addition to the immediate human suffering inflicted on women, and in light of poor access to basic services, the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS grows day by day beyond the 15 million already affected.

The European response to this challenge is based on a “policy framework” adopted in October to confront three of the major communicable diseases – HIV/AIDS, malaria and Tuberculosis. This will be translated in concrete initiatives in those countries in an Action Plan to be presented in early 2005.

While making condoms available is still the most effective strategy to prevent transmission, the European Commission’s strategy includes promoting the development of microbicides (a vaginal gel preventing transmission) and investing in the development of an effective and affordable HIV/AIDS vaccine for developing countries as a potentially ground-breaking means to control the disease.

Furthermore, it is clear that education, and especially girls’ educations, is key. The EC supports primary education programmes in more than 30 developing countries, with an annual average contribution of €260 million. Teachers play a crucial role in strengthening the school system’s response to HIV/AIDS, but in many countries there is a sharp shortage of teachers due to the impact of HIV/AIDS.

Providing access to treatment for people infected is a prime objective. The EC is actively pursuing this in the WTO, through EC legislation on tiered pricing on pharmaceutical products, and through the promotion of local production. The EC is also the second largest donor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, with €460.5 million committed for the period 2001-2006.

European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership

The EDCTP is a research programme for the development of new medical products, microbicides and vaccines to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis targeted at sub-Saharan Africa. It focuses on phase II/III clinical trials for the three poverty-related diseases and is tailored to the specific needs of developing countries.

The EDCTP was created by 15 European countries to establish a long term, sustainable and genuine partnership between European and developing countries. The European Union decided to support the EDCTP via Article 169 of the Treaty by allocating € 200 million from the 6th Research Framework Programme. The EDCTP target budget is € 600 million for the period 2003 - 2007.

Apart from the €200 million from the EU, €200 million will come from Member States' national activities, and further € 200 million still have to be found from industry, charity and private organisations. The EDCTP is not part of the general calls for proposals of the European Commission, instead it operates as a separate legal entity with its own guidelines, including calls for proposals and appropriate selection and evaluation procedures.

Research Framework Programme Projects

In the period from 1998 to 2002, under the Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, the European Union has made substantial investments in a broad range of collaborative research activities related to HIV/AIDS. €28m has been allocated to vaccine research, €10m to drug discovery and research and €9m for research on health policy and heath systems. The European project partnerships undertaking this research have included worldwide partners as well.

The Sixth Research Framework Programme (2002-2006) is funding a number of projects in the field of HIV/AIDS research. These include research to develop a specific HIV microbicide for the prevention of sexual transmission/acquisition of HIV, and further research on vaccines. Ongoing research seeks to increase understanding of the immune mechanism.

The World AIDS Day must be an occasion to remind us all of the need to reinforce our commitment to confront HIV/AIDS in Europe and throughout the world, when the pandemic continues to spread and the number of people currently living with HIV/AIDS gets close to 40 million.Girls and women carry a heavier burden and are affected more often and at an earlier age by HIV/AIDS than men. The situation is particularly critical in Sub-Saharan Africa, where higher rates of poverty among women, the lack of education leading to lower literacy rates, lack of access to effective prevention tools, the pervasive effects of gender inequality, and sexual violence inside and outside marriage make women more susceptible to infection. Moreover, the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS grows day by day to beyond the 15 million already affected.

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HIV/AIDS: risk to young Europeans increasing says Markos Kyprianou
The new generation of Europeans face an unprecedented risk of catching HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection. Mr. Kyprianou is due to make a statement to the European Parliament tomorrow to mark World AIDS Day. Speaking on the eve of World AIDS Day, Mr. Kyprianou said, “Teenagers and people in their early twenties, are too young to remember the safe sex campaigns of the 1980s and early 1990s. With HIV infection rates rising across our continent, urgent action is needed to avert a public health disaster”. The number of newly reported HIV cases in the EU has nearly doubled since 1996, with the most drastic increase observed in the Baltic States. The situation in neighbouring countries is equally grave. In Russia, there are almost one million people infected with HIV, 80% of which are in people under thirty. In September this year health ministers from across the EU and its neighbours met in Vilnius, Lithuania, and endorsed a strategy proposed by the Commission for fighting the AIDS epidemic in Europe
Call for enhanced WTO transparency through parliamentary involvement
The Brussels Session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO concluded with the adoption of a declaration urging "governments and parliaments to engage in a regular dialogue so that the latter can effectively exercise parliamentary oversight of the international trade negotiations and their follow-up." Welcoming the July 2004 WTO General Council decision on the Doha Work Programme, the parliamentarians from 80 countries and the EP say "this raised hopes that the impasse of the Ministerial Conference in Cancun has finally been overcome, with a consensual roadmap now in place for moving the multilateral trade negotiations forward." They also emphasise the substantial contributions that parliamentarians can make to the WTO negotiations and call upon the respective governments to include MPs in their official delegations at the Sixth WTO Conference, in Hong Kong in December 2005 - and to include in the final Ministerial declaration the following text: "Transparency of the WTO should be enhanced by associating parliaments closely with the activities of the WTO". (The full text of the declaration is available from the EP Press Service - contacts below.)

Wednesday, 01 December 2004
World AIDS day 2004
01 December 2004

The theme for the World AIDS Day 2004 focuses on women, girls, and HIV and AIDS – this is also the theme for the World AIDS Campaign this year coordinated by UNAIDS.

The first World AIDS Day was declared in 1 December 1988 by the World Health Organisation. Since that it has been one of the world’s most successful commemorative days and is now celebrated around the world. During this day the progress made in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic is celebrated and at the same time the challenges ahead can be brought into the focus.
According the recent epidemiological estimates from UNAIDS almost 40 million people are living with HIV and almost half of them are women.

Estimated five million new infections occurred in 2004. Within the EU the number of newly reported HIV infections has increased by almost 75 % from 1996 to 2003 according to data from EuroHIV network. According UNAIDS estimates, more than half a million people are living with HIV within the EU. In the neighbouring countries the number of people living with HIV is increasing steeply, in particular in Ukraine. The Russian Federation has the largest epidemic in Europe with estimated 860 000 people living with HIV.