Europe shapes new action plans on HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis

WHO/ Bente Drachmann

Experts met in Copenhagen, Denmark on 4-5 April 2016 to discuss new action plans on HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis.

Two advisory committees met in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 4–5 April 2016 to guide new action plans on HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis for the WHO European Region 2016–2021.

The committees made suggestions and comments on the proposed regional goals, targets and priorities in each of the two plans. The issues discussed included how best to incorporate sexually transmitted infections into the plans and cross-links between the two action plans.

The importance of this rigorous consultation process was highlighted, especially for the action plan on viral hepatitis, as it is the first plan on the prevention and control of viral hepatitis in the WHO European Region. The aim of the new HIV/AIDS plan is to boost efforts initiated with the 2012–2015 plan to achieve zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths in the Region. 

52 experts, representing ministries of health, national HIV and hepatitis programmes, civil society organizations, academia, United Nations agencies, major partner organizations, WHO headquarters, country offices and WHO collaborating centres took part in the discussions.

HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis epidemics in the European Region

Over 142 000 new HIV infections were diagnosed in the WHO European Region in 2015, the highest number ever. The HIV epidemic is driven by cases in the eastern part of the Region, where the number of new diagnoses has more than doubled during the past decade.

Over 13 million people in the Region are living with chronic hepatitis B infection and over 15 million with chronic hepatitis C infection. Two-thirds of those infected are in eastern Europe and central Asia. Hepatitis B and C infections lead to 400 deaths in the Region every day.

Next steps in the consultation 

The next steps include an online public consultation and consultations with all countries in the European Region. These are expected to provide important input to the final versions of both action plans. 

The WHO action plans on HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis for the European Region 2016–2021 will be presented at the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in September 2016, for endorsement by Member States.