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28th Sep 2020

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Ending HIV/AIDS: A tale of two Europes

  • Gilead Sciences and the Elton John AIDS Foundation have partnered to create RADIAN, a ground-breaking initiative which aims to bridge the gap in the fight against AIDS and HIV (Photo: Elton John AIDS Foundation)

Prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS in large parts of Europe continue to fall as the global community finally has the tools to meaningfully address new HIV infections.

Western Europe has seen significant improvements in diagnosis rates and an overall decrease in new infection rates. (1) However in eastern Europe and central Asia (EECA), the annual rate of HIV infections continues to rise. Deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in this region have increased 300 percent in the last two decades. (2)

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World AIDS Day (Sunday 1 December) is both a time to celebrate the advancements across Western Europe and a time for decisive action to address disparities in HIV care in EECA to ensure no one is left behind in the global effort to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

To address challenges in the region, Gilead Sciences and the Elton John AIDS Foundation have partnered to create RADIAN, a ground-breaking initiative which aims to bridge the gap in the fight against AIDS and HIV.

"It is unacceptable that every day more than 400 people become infected with HIV, and 100 die from AIDS-related illnesses in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Both the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Gilead Sciences have previously worked together in the region and there is still an urgent need to drastically expand our efforts," said Anne Aslett, chief executive officer, Elton John AIDS Foundation.

"Through focused investment in local partners, this initiative leverages our understanding of the EECA community from previous projects and will drive forward our shared ambition to end the HIV epidemic."

RADIAN is made up of two elements, the RADIAN "Model Cities" programme will invest in targeted interventions by local organisations in key EECA cities and the RADIAN "Unmet Need" fund will support local initiatives across the region and beyond the selected RADIAN Model Cities.

Through a multi-pronged effort, RADIAN can direct resources to communities in need that are immediately ready to scale interventions through targeted funding, while simultaneously building capacity in others.

Over the next five years, the best practices and learnings from the local implementation of RADIAN will be used as a blueprint towards helping change the trajectory of HIV across the region.

One of the biggest challenges the programme faces is addressing stigma around HIV/AIDS in EECA. Stigma remains one of the single most important reasons people living with HIV do not access care.

HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects people from disadvantaged populations – those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, sex workers, people who inject drugs and their sexual partners – and they often face discrimination due to stigma.

"It is time to implement solutions to see real change," said Anne Aslett. "We encourage local and regional organisations across EECA, who share our vision of significantly improving the quality of care for people living with HIV and AIDS, to help us achieve zero new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths by 2030."

1) World Health Organization 2018. HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe 2018 - 2017 data. Available here. [Accessed November 2019].

2) UNAIDS (2019). UNAIDS Data 2019. Available here. [Accessed November 2019].

For further information on the RADIAN programme or to apply for funding please click.

Job bag: IHQ-HIV-2019-11-0019

Date of Preparation: November 2019

Author bio

Alex Kalomparis is vice-president of public affairs for Australia, Canada and Europe at Gilead Sciences.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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