From stigma to support: Ending HIV in Europe by 2030

With the election of a new European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as several regional elections, HIV advocacy groups are working to ensure that the welfare and needs of individuals living with HIV remain a priority on the health agenda.

Despite advancements in HIV treatments and therapies, the disease continues to pose challenges, particularly as more individuals living with HIV age. These individuals face unique treatment and care needs, which necessitate attention from EU institutions and member states in the form of regulations, policies, and collaborative efforts.

Mario Cascio, the Quality of Life program chair of the European AIDS Treatment Group, has been living with HIV for over four decades. He emphasizes the need for investment in the prevention of comorbidities and for health care systems to be equipped with integrated, people-centered care to address these evolving needs.

Another critical issue is the growing concern over medication resistance, which could make treatment significantly more challenging for patients. Innovation in anti-HIV treatments and a stronger political commitment to ending the epidemic are key to addressing these challenges, according to Cascio.

Europe has committed to the UNAIDS goal of ending HIV by 2030, and there is increasing political momentum at the EU level. Calls to action have been made in recent months, including letters from HIV-related organizations and a cross-party group of Members of the European Parliament to the European Commission, as well as a call-to-action statement to EU27 health ministers.

Policymakers in the EU are advocating for policies such as testing, rapid linkage and retention to innovative care and prevention options, people-centered integrated care, and measures to reduce stigma and discrimination. The EU’s commitment to ending HIV was also reaffirmed at the G7 summit in Italy.

Despite progress, Cascio stresses the need for continued action, urging EU institutions and member states to coordinate their efforts and implement policies at both the European and national levels. He proposes an ambitious EU action plan to support national efforts for the next five years and beyond, emphasizing prioritization, innovation, sustained investment, differentiated service-delivery models, strong collaboration, and community involvement.

Cascio highlights the opportunity to end the HIV epidemic if action is taken now, stating that such an achievement would bring dignity to those still affected by HIV and stop transmissions once and for all. To learn more about the current state of play and how to end the HIV epidemic, read the report “Going the extra mile to end the HIV epidemic” commissioned by Gilead Sciences and developed by Boston Consulting Group partners.

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