EU releases updated Action Plan to fight HIV/AIDS in neighboring countries

The European Commission released its Action Plan on HIV/AIDS on Friday that extends and builds on existing action established by the 2009-2013 Action Plan.

The new plan puts greater focus on keeping HIV/AIDS as a priority on the political agenda, informing the public against HIV/related stigma and discrimination, as well as raising awareness against risk behavior.

"Today's Action Plan shows that the fight against HIV/Aids remains a priority for EU health policy," European Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg said. "We need to address the worrying increase of HIV/AIDs in some parts of the EU. To do this, we must reach out to the citizens who are most at risk, fight all forms of discrimination, and foster access to diagnosis and treatment. I am fully committed to this cause and call on all actors - health authorities, NGOs, international organizations - to join us in putting this plan in action."

The action plan also identifies at-risk populations that need additional support, such as prisoners and sex workers. The plan encourages improved cooperation with Eastern European Member States and addressing the relation of HIV/AIDS to tuberculosis and hepatitis.

More than 131,000 new HIV infections were reported in Europe and Central Asia in 2012. Of these, more than 29,000 were reported in the EU and the European Economic area.

The Commission's action to combat the increase of HIV/AIDS will continue as preset by the 2009-2013 Action Plan, which was prolonged to 2016. The plan is structured in six areas: politics, policies and involvement of civil society, prevention, priority regions, priority groups, improving knowledge and monitoring and evaluation. The EC will continue to work with communities and member states through the HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum and the Think Tank on HIV/AIDS to ease planning and implementation of its response to the disease.

The EC said the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction will continue to be important partners in the fight against disease.