On the occasion of the World AIDS Day HIV/AIDS, experts and activists of Serbia gathered for a panel in the Dom Omladine center in Belgrade to discuss current issues on the field of HIV prevention in Serbia. Panel was organized by Predrag Azdejkovic, activist for LGBT rights.
Dr Dragan Ilic stressed his concern for the center for the voluntary and confidential counseling and testing on the Student Health Center since it faces significant problems, maybe even closing. Momcilo Janjic from the Youth of Jazas spoke about the financing issues the Global Fund faces, while Aleksandar Skundric spoke about the work of the drop-in organization SPY. Bratislav Prokic from the Q-Club talked about importance of responsibility of all the stakeholders of the fight against HIV and stressed the role of ARV therapy in prevention.
We invite all members and interested parties to attend the annual General assembly meeting of the Association of Citizens Q-Club.
The session of Assembly will held on 17 12 2011 starting at 18h in the premises of the Association of Citizens "Q-Club" in Belgrade, Šafarikova 6, with the following agenda:
1. Selection of Chairperson and recording secretary;
2. Submission and approval of the annual report on the work of the Board;
3. Presentation of five-year report on the results and achievements;
4. Tasks and objectives of the Association of Citizens "Q-Club" in 2012;
All interested are invited to confirm their presence three days earlier due to space limitations.
Contact: Nenad Petkovic
Tests which are used in regular control and treatment of HIV infection (PCR, CD 4, resistance test) have about two weeks ago been put on the list of available healthcare services by the Republic Health Insurance Fund. These tests are generally applied in regular clinical practice, but so far have only been acquired trough international donations, and were not a part of the healthcare system of Serbia, even though they are a key part of HIV treatment. In the future they will be provided by the Republic Health Insurance Fund and Clinics, and will be available to patients.
This is a positive outcome of the advocacy efforts for better treatment conditions of people living with HIV, initiated by the Q-club early this year. In March we had a conference with representatives of the Republic Health Insurance Fund, Health Ministry and doctors of the Clinic for Infectious diseases, where an agreement was reached to put the tests on the list.
The good news is that it finally happened. This however doesn’t guarantee the tests will be available all the time, but it does put a significant responsibility obligation to healthcare providers.
In the future, the Q-club will continue with advocacy efforts for availability of HIV diagnostics and new medicines.
As part of the study tour to the programs in the response to HIV / AIDS in Serbia, the delegation of doctors and epidemiologists from Montenegro, headed by Dr Aleksandar Marjanovic, head of the Centre for Voluntary Counseling and Testing for HIV in Podgorica, visited the Q-Club. Activists of Q-Club presented the work and achievements of the organization and explained more to the guests about PLHIV support programs that are implemented in organization. Special attention was given to AIDS resource web portal that offers a lot of trusted information about HIV / AIDS which are available throughout the region. The visit included the discussion of future forms of cooperation and joint initiatives.
Belgrade, The people living with HIV in Serbia are complaining about the lack of treatment nor only for HIV, but for other infections as well.
According to the estimate of the World Health Organization, there are between 4 and 6 thousand people living with HIV in Serbia. Only 1,500 of those are registered.
Thanks to the modern therapies, people living with HIV can live out their full lives if they start their therapy at the right time and do it adequately. The therapy usually consists of taking three different medicines at the same time, until the virus develops resistance to the medicines. At that point the combination should be changed.
“I can safely say that the HIV treatment in Serbia way below the European level. We are even below the regional level. The number of medicines on the list of the Republic Institute for Health Insurance is very limited. A new medicine hasn’t been added to the list since 2004. Another problem is that the patients get medicines prescribed, those medicines are registered, but can’t be purchased here – they just aren’t being imported” said Nenad Petković from the association of People Living with HIV.
Basic problem in treatment occurs when the virus becomes resistant to the prescribed combination of medicines. At that point it continues to replicate and endangers the life of the person. Members of the association claim that the number of PLHIV with this problem is rapidly growing, because for the last 15 years people have been treated with a limited number of medicines.
“A big problem is that we don’t have enough choice for medicines with good resistance profile, which are very resistant to virus changes and mutations – we don’t have any of those medicines. Only as many as three or four medicines could be of immense importance for therapies of patients who just don’t have any choice at the moments” said dr Jovan Ranin – infectologist.
Good treatment controls the pandemic of this illness. Average age of HIV patients in Serbia is 37. With adequate therapy they are capable to work normally. Otherwise their lives are threatened, and HIV infections leaves the body opened for numerous infections like tuberculoses, fungal infections, pneumonias, encephalitis, and many others. Another big problem is that medicines for those illnesses are in deficit as well.
“We now have a patient whose eyesight is weakening by the year, and we are afraid that he will soon go blind. He has already lost one eye, because we don’t have the medicine for cito-malignant retina virus, which had attacked him because of his diminished imunity” said Ranin.
People from the Republic Institute states that they are aware of the problem, and that 100 million dinars will be allocated for medicine purchase in 2012.
Until 2008, a part of the fund for PLHIV was provided in cooperation with the Post Office, and such actions should be organized again by the state officials.