HIV Outcomes Roundtable within SEISIDA’s Scientific Meeting – HIV Stigma and Discrimination: a European Approach
The HIV Outcomes initiative organised a roundtable event on HIV stigma and discrimination within the wider SEISIDA scientific meeting “Hacer VIHsible lo invisible”. The roundtable aimed at sharing evidence-based policy recommendations and in-country best practices. To this end, HIV Outcomes members contributed with good practices which were presented by the speakers to the Spanish authorities during the roundtable. The information gathered at the roundtable could inform the development of the Spanish EU Presidency’s political declaration on HIV stigma and discrimination, expected to be presented during World AIDS Day, on 1 December 2023.
Furthermore, the roundtable highlighted the importance of adopting a European approach to fighting HIV stigma, as coordination at EU level will also help ensure a wider impact to the aim of ending HIV discrimination. The roundtable hosted discussions on the best practices in combating structural discrimination and highlighted cross-party political commitment through a video where Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the political spectrum showed support to the fight against HIV stigma and discrimination.
High-level roundtable speakers included:
- Dr. Julia del Amo, Director of the National Plan on AIDS in the Spanish Ministry of Health
- Dr. Esteban Martínez, President of European AIDS Clinical Society
- Prof. Jane Anderson, HIV Outcomes Co-Chair & Consultant Physician at Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
- Sini Pasanen, HIV Outcomes Steering Group Member, Steering Committee Member of AIDS Action Europe & Executive Director of Positiiviset ry
- Stéphan Vernhes, HIV Outcomes Steering Group Member & Coordinator European Platform AIDES
The roundtable was moderated by Prof. María José Fuster (HIV Outcomes Spain / SEISIDA) and Prof. Jeffrey V. Lazarus (HIV Outcomes Steering Group Member / ISGlobal).
Key takeaways of the event:
- Stigma and discrimination are a major barrier to people seeking the services they need. This is affecting outcomes for individuals and undermining public health.
- Key messages around U=U have not yet reached the public, and some healthcare workers also require education and training.
- Innovation can facilitate the development of new delivery models for HIV services, which can improve access to care and reduce stigma and discrimination.
- Good practices, ranging from initiatives by civil society and other stakeholders to legal and policy measures by governments, can help to address stigma and discrimination. HIV Outcomes has collated and shared these positive examples.
- Political momentum is behind the broad coalition of stakeholders committed to tackling stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. There is cross-party support from MEPs and strong commitment from the incoming Spanish EU Presidency.
- The Spanish authorities rely on the support of the other EU Presidencies (Belgium and Hungary) for the development of the EU declaration on HIV and stigma. Informal discussions with other EU Member States took place as well, in an effort to build support for the declaration ahead of the Spanish EU Presidency.