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AIDS Action Europe - Continuity and Innovation 2016 [AAE] [709680] - Operating Grant
Project abstract

AIDS Action Europe (AAE) will maintain to work in 2016 under its leading motto for the Framework Partnership Agreement, continuity and innovation. As a comprehensive NGO network in the field of HIV/AIDS with over 440 network members and partners from all over Europe and Central Asia, AAE is a unique player with substantial added value for European policy making and programme implementation and will place the following core problem areas in 2016:
AAE will focus on advocacy for a new policy framework beyond 2016 since it is crucial to continue the activities and join efforts of all stakeholders to compile a new policy framework with sustained involvement of Civil Society
Since AAE received a seat at the NGO delegation to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board for the period of 2016-2017, advocacy for European issues at international level will become a focus of AAE’s work.
With gay men and other MSM being the only key population in Europe where there has been a steady increase in the number of new infections, AAE decided to initiate and participate in activities that focus on PrEP as well as modern technologies, such as gay dating apps into prevention efforts and information dissemination.
Based on the findings described in the FPA and on the activities in 2016, AAE will continue its activities within the EHLF to improve access to HIV services for all those who have limited access due to their residency status, to improve affordability of medicines and access to treatment as well as increase VCT outside medical settings.
Tackling stigma and discrimination is a core task for AAE and is reflected as a cross sectional theme in all our activities. AAE will advocate for the rights of key populations and contribute to fairer, inequality reducing societies. To support health innovation and knowledge in the field of HIV and co-infections across the borders is the aim of our communication activities through our Clearinghouse, our website and social media presence.

Summary of context, overal objectives, strategic, relevance and contribution of the action

AIDS Action Europe (AAE) is a comprehensive NGO network in the field of HIV/AIDS with over 400 network members and partners from all over Europe and Central Asia. It is a unique player in the field with substantial added value for European policy making and programme implementation.
Under the leading principle of AIDS Action Europe’s multiannual Framework Partnership Agreement 2015 – 2017 “continuity and innovation”, objectives and activities in 2016 were planned and implemented in order to optimise the EU’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, to strengthen civil society’s contribution to a more effective response to the HIV epidemic and to strengthen the AAE network.
In this context, these specific objectives framed AAE’s work in 2016:
(I) Civil Society’s contributions to regional and national HIV/AIDS policies and programmes are effective and meaningful,
(II) a strong and effective working network is established by improved collaboration, linking and learning, and good practice exchange related to HIV/AIDS among NGOs, networks, policy makers and other stakeholders
(III) the functioning of the network by optimised internal management processes is ensured.
Furthermore, based on the problem analysis and evidence described in the Framework Partnership Agreement application, in 2016 the AAE Steering Committee decided to address six core topics that need to be attended to at a broader working level in order to reach AAE’s general objective to contribute to a more effective response to the HIV epidemic in Europe and Central Asia:
a) Advocacy for a new policy framework
The Action Plan deriving from the EU Communication for Combating HIV/AIDS in the European Union and neighbouring countries 2009 - 2013 was prolonged until the end of 2016 due to successful advocacy efforts of AAE and its partners. However, a longer timeframe is needed to keep HIV/AIDS on the political agenda of the Commission. In 2016, it is crucial to continue the activities and join efforts of all stakeholders to compile a new policy framework and to ensure further and sustainable commitment in the response to HIV/AIDS with sustained involvement of Civil Society. In line with the FPA proposal, AAE will ensure that the CSF serves as the interface between civil society, the European Commission and the HIV/AIDS Think Tank, playing a critical role in facilitating direct dialogue between policy makers and NGOs.
b) Advocacy for European issues at the international level
During the summer of 2015, AAE applied for and received a seat at the NGO delegation to the UNAIDS PCB for the period of 2016-2017. With our participation in the work of the NGO delegation AAE has made sure that European issues have been heard and properly addressed in the global agenda by consulting our members and reporting back to civil society from meetings and decisions of the PCB.
c) Upscaling access to prevention for gay men and other MSM by using modern communication technologies and comprehensive prevention methods including PrEP. Already in the FPA proposal chapter “Problem Analysis and Evidence” it was concluded that interventions to control and prevent HIV among MSM have to remain in focus, in particular in the West. According to the epidemiological report by ECDC, gay men and other MSM are the only key population in Europe where there has been a steady increase in the number of new infections without regional differences. It is obvious that there is a need for increased prevention efforts among MSM and that also new prevention techniques need to be introduced and scaled up if we are to control the epidemic in this key population and taking into consideration the regional differences. During the CROI2015 conference, two studies conducted in Europe on PrEP (PROUD and iPERGAY) showed evidence that both daily and intermittent PrEP use are highly efficient in preventing HIV-infections among gay men and other MSM. Following the PrEP manifesto by the European AIDS Treatment G

Methods and means

I.1 The HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum
The HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum is an advisory body to the European Commission. Two annual meetings, constant exchange between the CSF coordination team members via mails and conference calls, the CSF Facebook page (HIV Europe Policy) and email exchange with the CSF members through the CSF mailing list are methods to ensure the functioning of the CSF. Advocacy initiatives are implemented by writing letters and statements, by outreach to national and European stakeholders as well as by information and briefs to external stakeholders. Results and reports of the CSF meetings and advocacy activities are published on the AAE website.
I.2 Contribution to implementation, monitoring and evaluation of European HIV policy
The EU HIV/AIDS Think Tank provides the platform to share Civil Society’s perspectives and positions on EU policies. Six members of the CSF participate one day in the biannual meetings of the Think Tank, report from the CSF meetings and ensure that Civil Society’s voices are being heard. Furthermore, policies and guidelines from stakeholders are reviewed and given input to in the process of their preparation if required.

I.3 Advocate as AAE for Civil Society concerns regarding European policy initiatives by participating in key European events
Participation in key European events, to deliver key speeches and other contributions and provision of reports considering this events on AAE media are the instruments to give Civil Society a voice. Furthermore a staff member of the AAE office has been elected as delegate to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (UNAIDS PCB). In this way, the European Civil Society perspective is represented at the global level.

I.4 Promote findings of the European HIV Legal Forum (EHLF)
The EHLF is a project implemented by AAE to facilitate access to HIV prevention, care and treatment for migrants in an irregular situation. After finalising the desk research, the survey in 10 countries and the overall report in 2015, in 2016 the findings were presented and promoted in four events and highlighted in the EU HIV/AIDS Think Tank.

I.5 Support and facilitate national and regional advocacy efforts on “Affordability of medicines and access to treatment”
After developing the affordability advocacy tool in 2015, the tool was applied in 2016 in three regional trainings, one in Riga, Latvia for the Baltic countries, one in Athens, Greece for the Central-South region and one in Belgrade, Serbia for the EU accessing countries in the South-East region.

I.6 Facilitate activities on “Community based voluntarily counselling and testing outside medical settings” at European level
A satellite to the HIV/AIDS congress was conducted that bundled up community based VCT activities in Europe and blazed the trail to further needs. AAE reported about the results of the AAE satellite symposium and HIV Glasgow to a wider audience. During the regular consultations in the AAE CBVCT Working Group further plans for the CBVCT project were developed.

I.7 Upscale access to prevention for gay men and other MSM
AAE contributes to coordination of activities that addresses PrEP and conducts a small working meeting on the usage of mobile gay dating apps for HIV prevention among gay men and other MSM.

II.1 Offer improved bilingual (En/Ru) good practice exchange and information
The re-launched Clearinghouse is promoted via AAE’s media channels as a useful and needed tool to exchange good practice and information. The AAE website is redesigned. Both instruments are used for networking, linking and learning between members, partners and stakeholders in a moderated news sharing way.

II.2 Intensify communication
Social media like Facebook, Twitter and VKontakte are used to inform and spread news
about AAE’s activities. Members and partners are informed by tailored mailings and link building and contact seeding. Our experience in 2016 showed that promotion mechanisms that w

Work performed during the reporting period

Objective I: Civil Society’s contributions to regional and national HIV/AIDS policies and programmes are effective and meaningful
 The EU HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum meets biannually and is organised by the CSF Coordination Team, composed by the two CSF co-Chairs from EATG and AAE, the Policy Officer of EATG and the Executive Coordinator of AAE. The preparation work as well as all advocacy activities are prepared by regular teleconferences and face-to-face meetings.
On April 18 and 19, the first Civil Society Forum (CSF) in 2016 was held in Luxembourg and six CSF members attended the Think Tank meeting on April 20, 2016. Apart from the regular topics on the agenda like the Update from the Commission and from the agencies and the reports from the CSF co-Chairs on recent activities and the report from the representatives from current and future EU Presidency Countries, relevant policy developments such as engaging Civil Society at national level and connect with GO representatives, Stigma and discrimination, Migrants and migrants with irregular status, and needs, challenges and strategies to support CSO in neighbouring countries and a report from the recent Chemsex Forum, conducted in London, were discussed. For the second day of the CSF Meeting, representatives from pan-European organisations on Hepatitis and Tuberculosis were invited for the first time to discuss strategically the integrative approach of including HIV, Hepatitis and Tuberculosis in one Policy Framework. Moreover, the topic Addressing the funding gap – Perspective from activists in the regions, from agencies and from the Commission was on the agenda.
The second CSF Meeting was conducted on October 10 and 11. On the agenda were, apart from the regular topics the Fast Track City – Experiences from the Amsterdam project, the situation in neighbouring countries and addressing the funding gap, Stigma and legal barriers in testing and linkage to care, Criminalisation of HIV transmission and exposure, Follow-up on the Integrated Approach discussion on HIV, TB and viral hepatitis in a Strategic Framework, Gay Mobile Apps – Good practice examples from the countries, PrEP – Report from France and discussion on the state of play in other countries. Six CSF Members participated in the Think Tank Meeting on October 12. The CSF reports were published along with the agendas and executive summaries on the AAE website.
The CSF Coordination Team also contributed to the call for new members of the EU HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis and Tuberculosis for the term 2017 to 2020.
 CSF members contributed to the Think Tank meetings as mentioned above, not only with regard to the report from the CSF meeting but also sharing opinions and perspectives in the discussions related to the topics of the agenda.
All CSF related activities were prepared and implemented in close collaboration with EATG. In this context, several advocacy activities have been initiated by the CSF in cooperation with EATG and AAE by itself:
o In December 2015 the CSF was invited to nominate a representative for the launched EU Joint Action on HIV and Co-infection Prevention and Harm Reduction (HA-REACT) Advisory Board. Also the CSF was invited to the Kick-off meeting and 1st Advisory Board Meeting on January 14;15 in Vilnius.
o In February an open letter was written to the authorities in the Czech Republic to stop the legal persecution of people living with HIV: Pan-European Networks of communities of people living with and affected by HIV, doctors and scientists call upon the Government of the Czech Republic to immediately stop the Prague Public Health Authority's persecution and intimidation of people living with HIV, and to return to evidence based and proven practices in HIV prevention, testing and care in the Czech Republic.
o In February the CSF Coordination Team met with the new head of the unit Crisis management and preparedness in health in the Commission, Michael Huebel and Wolfgang Philip

The main output achieved so far and their potential impact and use by target group (including benefits)

Framed by our mission, vision, guiding principles and core values, AAE’s general objective in Europe and Central Asia is to strengthen civil society’s contribution to a more effective response to the HIV epidemic. AAE is striving for reduction of health inequalities, focusing on most at risk populations and the epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Due to AAE’s activities in the HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum and the contributions to the HIV/AIDS Think Tank, Civil Society’s needs, concerns and perspective were reflected in European HIV policies in 2016. Advocacy for a new policy framework for Combating HIV/AIDS in the European Union and Neighbouring Countries in particular, was maintained in order to assure sustainability of policies where people living with/affected by HIV, viral Hepatitis and Tuberculosis are involved. The Meeting with the Commissioner in November ensured that there is a firm commitment from the Commissioner to HIV, TB and hepatitis. The EU commitment is expressed in the communication on the Sustainable Development Goals. For the first time representatives of Pan-European Hepatitis and Tuberculosis organisations participated in the CSF Meetings in 2016.
AAE in collaboration with the European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG) organized, conducted and prepared the report of the 2 meetings of the CSF and their representatives also participated and conveyed the main results and findings of the meetings to the representatives of the Think Tanks meetings. In order to implement the integrative approach the CSF Coordination Team contributed to the call for new members of the EU HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis and Tuberculosis for the term 2017 to 2020 by addressing also Hepatitis and TB organisations.
In its advocacy efforts AAE addressed members and partners of AAE as well as policy makers and decision makers. The CSF prepared an open letter addressing the Government of the Czech Republic to stop the legal prosecution and change the legislation criminalizing people living with HIV. The issue of transition from Global Fund funding to domestic funding, based on the example of Montenegro, was raised with the upcoming Estonian EU-Presidency and was requested to include it in their agenda.
The AAE CSF co-chair and coordination team met the representatives from Malta during the HLM on HIV/AIDS in New York in June to discuss the agenda of the Maltese EU-presidency related to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis.
AAE also contributed to the global HIV/AIDS policy and programming level by participating in the Programme Coordinating Board of the Joint Programme of the United Nations (UNAIDS). AAE has a seat on the NGO Delegation for the period of 2016-2017 and via its representative raised and included issues of European concern during the Board meetings. AAE strongly contributed to the Thematic Segments of both PCB meetings: one the role of communities in ending AIDS and the topic of HIV and ageing. Also the European situation was represented in the report of the NGO Delegation on funding for community based organizations.
AAE through its EHLF built the ground to facilitate activities for improved access to HIV services for all those who have limited access due to their residency status. In order to diminish negative consequences for individuals and to impact the public health burden at national and EU level in the long term, AAE published and promoted the findings of the survey. Members of the EHLF started using good practice for advocacy activities in their countries and the EHLF findings were presented during the CSF meeting in April 2016, at the SRHR of undocumented migrants expert meeting in April 2016, co-organized by PICUM and Medicine du Monde and as a poster during the EUPHA 6th European Conference on Migrant Health in June, 2016. The EHLF was also presented during a session of the European Networking Zone during the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.
After a successful grant application f

Achieved outcomes compared to the expected outcomes

Objective I: The activities were implemented as planned with two CSF meetings conducted and the participation in and contributions to the two Think Tank Meetings. Furthermore, above described advocacy activities were undertaken in collaboration with AAE partners. In particular, efforts tackling criminalisation of PLWHIV in the Czech Republic were effective. By the end of the year all 30 cases were dropped from investigation. The activities addressing a new communication as policy framework from 2017 onwards started in 2015 and were maintained in 2016. As outlined above, in a meeting with the Commissioner the EU Commitment is expressed in the communication and action plan on the Sustainable Development Goals. A common understanding of an integrative approach to respond to all three communicable diseases not only as co-infections but also as mono-infections, an approach that Civil Society has been advocating for in recent years, is in place.
AAE’s activities regarding the EHLF have met the expected outcomes. A presentation was prepared and was adopted several times during the year according to the meetings where it was presented. AAE presented the EHLF findings in 4 international meetings as planned. On top of the planned outcomes, AAE also prepared a poster presentation for the 6th EUPHA conference on migrant health.
The EHLF planned and decided to continue its work and extend its network with the addition of 5 countries. After the successful grant application, EHLF is conducting its 3rd phase from September 2016 – December 2017. Its foreseen outcomes include an extended legal map with the addition of 5 countries, monitoring of legal and policy changes in the 15 countries and improved collection of resources and collaboration within the network and with partner organizations and networks and an improved more interactive online advocacy tool.
AAE´s activities regarding affordability and pricing of medicines also met the expected outcomes. The affordability working group met twice during 2016 and conducted several teleconferences during the year. A call for trainees and terms of reference for trainers were developed by the WG and the AAE Office and improvements were added to the training manual.The training manual developed in 2015 was improved during the year and was adapted to the three regions where the trainings were conducted. After the trainings, a training report of each training was produced with evaluation form the training participants, based on which we are planning to improve the trainings planned for 2017.
After France, Norway was the second country in the EU/EEA region that in 2016 started to provide access to PrEP. With the PrEP in Europe report, published by the by the PrEP in Europe initiative that AAE is involved in, a strong advocacy tool is in place.
Objective II: The number of uploads to the Clearinghouse in 2016 was 68 (target was 18, 3 per months). When it comes to downloads a decrease of 20,9 % has to be noted. That has to do with the new CMS that shows a clearer picture of downloads of the HIV/AIDS Clearinghouse publications. For this year it shows an average of 114 monthly downloads. Last year AAE had put together all available formats which were downloaded into one number, so the baseline of 2015 is 144. Targets for 2016 in social media were met. The information through regular postings on Facebook was increased from 2 to 3 per week. The information through regular posting on Twitter was increased from 1 to 2 per week, baseline 2015. Vkontakte was not increased (stays at 2), because of the reasons mentioned above.
Objective III: With all the activities implemented with regard to Objective III, the implementation of the work plan, governed and overseen by the AAE Steering Committee was implemented. The Steering Committee Meetings in Belgrade and Berlin were very important in order to re-settle the governance basis for AAE and prepare the strategic directions on the way to Amsterdam 2018.

Dissemination and evaluation activities carried out so far and their major results

The reports of meetings and working groups, such as the CSF meeting reports, the SC meeting reports, etc. were published on the AAE website. They were also distributed via AAE newsletter to the subscribers. Their topics included reports about advocacy efforts, conference news and their contributions. The CSF Facebook site “HIV Policy in Europe” an exchanging information tool for EATG, AAE and CSF members was used as an interactive discussion forum.
The programme of the European Networking Zone was disseminated in Durban to advertise for the installations and exhibitions and for the presentations and discussions during the International AIDS Conference in Durban, implemented together with EATG and ECUO.
“AIDS Action Europe: Strategic Framework 2015-2017” that was printed in July 2015 was disseminated at the EECAAC in Moscow, IAS2016 conference in Durban, the HIV conference in Glasgow and the AAE Member and Partner Meeting.
The poster “Right to health – access denied – Access to HIV services for migrants with irregular status in ten European countries” was produced for the EUPHA’s 6th European Conference on Migrant and Ethnic Minority Health (EUPHA-MEM H), June 23-25 2016 in Oslo.
All materials produced by AAE target its members and partners and other stakeholders who are working in the fields of HIV/AIDS, TB and viral Hepatitis prevention in the WHO Europe countries.
The websites and that was redesigned and updated in January, 2016 were used as dissemination platforms that provide news on activities and events to AAE’s stakeholders and regular users.
AAE´s evaluation is conducted internally with the help of an evaluation matrix that facilitated reporting to the activity, output and outcome related indicators. AAE’s activities regarding all 3 Objectives met the expected outcomes.
AAE conducted two evaluation surveys regarding its activities and performance in 2016 addressing its members and partners and the Steering Committee.
More than 70% of the responding members felt being a part of the network AIDS Action Europe in 2016. 63% perceived AIDs Action Europe in 2016 being a gateway for driving forward advocacy for HIV Policy change. 76% find the information provided on the website and on the Clearinghouse useful. 72% find the information provided by AAE website and Clearinghouse is useful for regular information exchange, knowledge sharing and networking.
Steering Committee members were satisfied with the work of the AAE office regarding the implementation of projects, management of the operating grant and overall performance of the AAE executive Office.
AAE also conducted evaluations of the meetings organized by the network. After both CSF meetings and the three affordability trainings AAE conducted an evaluation survey among the CSF members and the training participants. Based on the feedback the future CSF meetings and the affordability trainings planned for 2017 will be improved.
The number of uploads to the Clearinghouse in 2016 was 68 (target was 36, 3 per months). Targets for 2016 in social media were met. The information through regular postings on Facebook was increased from 2 to 3 per week. The information through regular posting on Twitter was increased from 1 to 2 per week, baseline 2015. Vkontakte stays at 2 per week. During 2016 12 newsletters were sent out to the AAE network and website subscribers.