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.
Conference on cooperation perspectives of civil society organizations and local self-governments took place in the “Serbia” palace, it was organized by Association Duga from Šabac in cooperation with the Office for human and minority rights and supported by the USA Embassy. There were over 50 participants – representatives of local self governments and civil society organizations from all over Serbia on this Conference.
The Strategy for the fight against discrimination was presented by Suzana Paunović, the director of the Office for human and minority rights. She stressed that drafting of the strategy included a wide public debate consisting of 11 round tables, and that over 150 civil society organizations took part in the drafting process.
The key elements of the Global Fund Project in Serbia were presented by Katarina Mitić, Director of the implementation unit of the Global Fund Project and the Ministry of Health of Serbia. She stressed that some programs face sustainability problems after withdrawal of the Global Fund, like the needle exchange program, since promoting such activities is very hard, as well as presenting them in the right context. As an answer to the question posted by the Q-Club, on the chances of new Global Fund rounds, Katarina Mitić said that chances are slim, due to the low prevalence and average GDP which puts Serbia in the Upper middle category. Still, if research shows that there is a concentrated epidemic in the MSM population, it would be a good cause for continued financing of certain programs.
The Director of the institute of public health of Serbia “Batut”, Dr Dragan Ilić spoke about contribution of the Association Duga to prevention of HIV/AIDS. In his talk he spoke about the importance of CSOs that work with vulnerable groups, and how they can be partners in the education system and other institutions, and employees of the institutions should work with vulnerable groups and cooperate with civil society organizations.
The conference was followed by a cocktail where participants had an opportunity for experience exchange and networking.