The Third National Conference of people living with HIV took place in Belgrade on June 26-28, and was organized by the Youth of JAZAS under the slogan „On a positive frequency“.
One of the main topics of the conference was sustainability of the programs currently financed by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and how those activities will be financed after 2014. Particular attention was given to capacity building of civil society organizations that provide these activities, programs of harm reduction and ways to motivate activities and donors in Serbia.
The participants of the conference were mostly PLHIV activistis, members of PLHIV organizations and members of related civil society organizations, but representatives of government institutions as well as foreign guests. Even tho expected representatives of the Republic Healhtcare Fund, experts from the Clinic for Infectous and tropic diseases, and the Ministry of health Implementation unit did not take part in the conference, so the actual participants „were denied significant information“ stressed Mr. Karlo Boras, executive director of the Youth of JAZAS.
Representatives of the Q-Club were Ms. Nada Micic, Mr. Rade Kuzmanovic, and Mr. Bratislav Prokic, along with several members of the organizations. Q-Club had a stand on the conference, and various promotional, preventive and educational materials were distributed from the stand.
Between June 3rd and June 6th representatives of PLHIV associations from Serbia visited HIV associations and healthcare institutions working on prevention, treatment and support in Vienna. During this three day visit, the Serbian delegation had the chance to visit AIDS Hilfe in Vienna, Otto Wagner Hospital and to learn about their work.
The participants were left under the impression that the situation with treatment availability, financial sources and percentage of the population included in HIV testing far better than in Serbia. However, stigma is still present, and there are only a few people prepared to publically talk about their HIV status. PLHIV are usually not involved in the work of associations – they are rather lead by professionals. Patients in Vienna can choose between taking treatment in public hospitals and private ordinations.
Along with the official study visit program, there was a significant exchange of formal and informal contacts of the representatives from various cities. There were a lot of discussions on challenges and obstacles to the work programs, but also for future cooperation.
Jelena Zulevic, psychologist, represented Q-Club on this study visit.
Round table on early detection of tuberculosis in people living with HIV was organized by the Global Fund project “Tuberculosis control in Serbia”, implemented by the Ministry of Health of Serbia, on June 14. 2013.
The round table gathered representatives of healthcare institutions, Global Fund, and non-government organizations, and with several lectures and following discussions presented the new manual “Tuberculosis and HIV-joined conifection”, as well as the real danger from the illness and the clinical aspects of the coinfection.
The manual was developed with the goal to provide basic knowledge on the joined confection of tuberculosis and HIV, and thus hopefully prevent it, recognize it in its earliest stages, and contribute to more successful treatment.
Q-Club representative on this round table was Rade Kuzmanović.
Public Healthcare authority in Užice and the Institute for public health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanović Batut” from Belgrade organized the symposium named “HIV/AIDS in Serbia – Experiences, New and Further Developments and Actions”, which took place on Zlatibor on 7th and 8th of June 2013.
Symposium participants presented further challenges to be faced within the overall response to HIV and AIDS and pointed out the obstacles and difficulties which can be expected in the future. Experts from Serbia and neighboring countries (Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina), scientists and experts from the Ministry of Health of Serbia, university professors from Serbia and abroad, and representatives of the Global Fund as well as members of the PLHIV sector took part in the symposium. Representing Q-Club was Nada Mićić.
The fourth AIDS symposium is a continuation of activities of the Public Healthcare Authority of Užice and the Institute for public health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanović Batut” from Belgrade in preventing and controlling HIV/AIDS.
Headlines like ”Horror” and ”Panic: People living with HIV without treatment” were used by major TV stations and Newspapers while reporting on the appeal of Q-Club that nearly 1000 people, who receive treatment at the clinic for infectious and tropical diseases, were left without medications. Prime time TV shows activists of Q-Club and relevant experts presented to the public all the ramifications of treatment interruptions of people living with HIV.
After this appeal and adequate steps of the people in charge the medications became available in private pharmacies. These pharmacies were permitted to procure and distribute the medications at the expense of the Republic Healthcare Fund. Normalization and regular procurement of HIV medications in the pharmacies of the public “Belgrade” Pharmacy Company followed shortly.
This appeal initiated by the stock-out, put out to the public important questions regarding the quality of healthcare of people living with HIV in Serbia, which are primarily stock-outs of diagnostic tests, insufficient access to medicines and molecules.
Q-Club will persevere in insisting for solving these problems in the future.
Press-clipping in Serbian following this action can be seen here.