Issues in HIV and AIDS in Central and Eastern Europe – A perspective from Romania

By: Andreea Lancu, President of the National YWCA of Romania

The delegation of the YWCA is here, present at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria. This Conference who’s aim is to unite people from all over the world in the response to HIV and AIDS  and  the promotion of human rights for everybody, no matter where they are from, their culture, their beliefs and their personality. The main motto of the Conference is “RIGHTS HERE, RIGHT NOW”!!!

The AIDS 2010 Conference is made up of sessions, workshops, programmes activities and exhibitions presented by representatives that have come from all over the world and from all continents.

I am here as a regional member of the YWCA from Romania and I am the only one from Europe. As a result I was very interested to participate in the sessions that concerned my geographical area, but also to find out more about the issues, problems and situations in sessions that described the situation in other parts of the world.

In Europe, especially Eastern and Central Europe, the HIV and AIDS  situation is not very good. The epidemic for women, and also for men, is closely related to the following:

  • Poverty and low investment in Eastern and Central European countries leads to an increase in the number of migrants that go to work in other countries in search of a better life. It also increases the number of sex workers and the number of young people injecting drugs.
  • People are NOT getting tested for HIV. Limited access to HIV testing and counseling will and is having an impact on early treatment and the prevention of further transmission of HIV.
  • Lack of access to treatment. There is not enough support from the Government, and the cost of treatment is high.
  • There is an increase in the number of men having sex with men (MSM).
  • Cultural attitudes, the church and governments (for example in Poland and Ukraine), do not support sex education and there is limited access to information for young people.
  • In many countries there is not enough funding from donors.

In Romania, all the problems that I have mentioned above are contributing to the increase of young people living with HIV. The most pressing issue is: “DONORS DECLINING SUPPORT FOR PROGRAMMES” (for example in Lithuania), either prevention programmes or support and treatment programmes.

To conclude, as an Non Governmental Organisation that is fighting for this cause, we should:

  • Advocate more
  • Find opportunities in the financial crisis and engage more people in the response to HIV.
  • Focus on programmes that are sustainable
  • Uphold European beliefs in health as a basic human right.

Make the difference:  “RIGHTS HERE, RIGHT NOW!”

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