EATG COVID-19 Rapid Assessment

European AIDS Treatment Group released the second COVID-19 rapid assessment bulletins.

The rapid assessment surveys aim to document in a structured manner the perceptions of people living with and affected by HIV and that of organisations providing services to affected communities about the way in which COVID-19 impacts their health, well-being and access to HIV related prevention, treatment and care.

The first rapid assessment bulletin was published on 10 April. For the second issue of the rapid assessment, EATG adjusted some of the questions and added additional ones in order to map the situation to the best extent possible. It complements the first issue of the rapid assessment.

Download the first assessment.

Download the second assessment.

Helpful information about COVID-19. Continuously updated.

On this page you can find helpful information and verified resources about COVID-19.

The page is continuously updated



WHO – World Health Organization 

THE UNION – a global union to fight Tuberculosis

ASAM – American Society of Addiction Medicine

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

International Drug Policy Consortium

United Nations – Office on drugs and crimes

Life4me+ (a page with useful information)

World Hepatitis Alliance



The situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia


Ministry of Health

A map with regions


Ministry of Health of Ukraine

National Health Service of Ukraine

Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine


Official website on Coronavirus

Website of the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic

Republican Headquarters Telegram Channel to Prevent Coronavirus Infiltration

Republican Coronavirus Prevention Headquarters Facebook page

Republican Coronavirus Prevention Headquarters Instagram Page


Official website about Coronavirus


A map with regions

Turkmenistan – credible public health information in the Turkmen language


Articles on topics:

COVID-19 and People Who Live with HIV

COVID-19 Drug Interactions .  Source –

PEPFAR Technical Guidance in Context of COVID-19 Pandemic. Source – PEPFAR

Risk assessment and contingency planning tool for health systems functions and to ensure continuity of TB and HIV services . SourceCenter For Health Policies and Studies

A statement “Flatten inequality: human rights in the age of COVID-19” 

SourceCanadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

No increased coronavirus risk for people with well-controlled HIV say WHO, but how will health systems cope?


EATG Rapid Assessment COVID-19 crisis’ Impact on PLHIV and on Communities Most Affected by HIV

Source – European AIDS Treatment Group 

Q&A on COVID-19, HIV and antiretrovirals

Source – WHO

COVID-19 and People Living with HIV: Frequently Asked Questions

Source – HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), Prevention Access Campaign, and partners

Resources on COVID-19 Support, Advocacy, Gender and HIV

Source – The Well Project

Lessons from HIV prevention for preventing COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries

Source – UNAIDS

Condoms and lubricants in the time of COVID-19

Source – UNAIDS

The global impact of COVID-19 and strategies for mitigation and suppression

Source – Imperial College London, UK

The Potential Impact of the COVID-19 Epidemic on HIV, TB and Malaria in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Source – Imperial College London, UK

COVID-19 and prisons

The International Corrections and Prisons Association  

Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention.  Source – WHO

Interim Guidance. COVID-19: Focus on persons deprived of their liberty.

Source – IASC – Inter-Agency Standing Committee

Position Paper COVID-19 preparedness and responses in prisons


COVID-19 pandemic: urgent steps are needed to protect the rights of prisoners in Europe. Statement by Commissioner Dunja Mijatović.

SourceCouncil of Europe


COVID-19 and  People Who Use Drugs 

COVID-19 guidance for PWUD.  Source –

Syringe Services and Harm Reduction Provider Operations During the COVID-19 Outbreak.

Source –

How Harm Reducers Cope with the Covid-19 Pandemic in Europe?

Source –

Interim Guidance for COVID-19 and Persons with HIV. Source –

Information on the new virus, guidance for people living with HIV and answers to frequently asked questions from Dr Michael Brady

Source –

Guidance for People Who Use Substances on COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)

Suggestions about treatment, care and rehabilitation of people with drug use disorder in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic


COVID-19 HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for people who use drugs


Reducing the Harms of a Broken System: Social Justice Demands During COVID-19

Statement by the UN expert on the right to health on the protection of people who use drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic

Harm Reduction Responses to COVID-19 in Europe

Source –

COVID-19 and Tuberculosis

COVID-19 Coronavirus And Tuberculosis: We Need A Damage Control Plan. Source –

New diseases and old threats: lessons from tuberculosis for the COVID-19 response.

Source –

WHO HQ Information note on TB and COVID 19

Source – WHO

COVID-19 and Hepatitis 



Source – AASLD – American Association for the study of Liver Diseases 

WHO HQ Q&A on COVID 19, HIV and antiretrovirals

Source – WHO

COVID-19 and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

The COVID-19 Outbreak: Potential Fallout for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

Source –

COVID-19 and youth

Youth guide

Source –

COVID-19 and SRHR 

SRHR and Gender

Source – Share-net International

COVID-19 and Sex workers

Sex workers’ response


What gay men can teach us about surviving the coronavirus

Source –


Increasing computer literacy

Anatoly Leshenok, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Association People PLUS (Belarus) talks about activities of his organization and increasing computer literacy at COVID-19 time.

For reference

The activities of the People PLUS Association are aimed at supporting people living with HIV and their families in Belarus. The organisation provides clients with comprehensive informational, social, psychological, legal and otherwise necessary assistance. People PLUS is working to improve the quality of social and medical services provided to HIV-positive people, including improving access to innovative and modern medicines for treating HIV infection, tuberculosis and hepatitis C.

Difficulties related to COVID-19

Despite the significant number of COVID-19 cases in Belarus, neither quarantine measures nor a state of emergency have been introduced. In order to avoid exposing clients to the additional risks of infection with the coronavirus, we have moved the majority of our activities online.

These days, the main problem faced by people living with HIV in Belarus is the disruption in the supply of ARV treatment — containing Tenofovir / Emtricitabine / Efavirenz. People cannot get medication for a longer treatment period, as is recommended. In some regions, they have to go to medical facilities every 10 days to get treatment, in others, treatment plans for patients were changed due to these disruptions.

The lack of access to antiretroviral therapy is also faced by Belarusian citizens staying abroad under quarantine. The organisations Life4me and EWNA help them to get ARV medication in the country of residence and they receive packages with medicaments sent from Belarus as well.

Response to COVID-19

Together with our partners from GNP +, Life4me and EATG, we looked into the reasons for the disruption in ARV supplies. We discovered that in December 2019 the production of ingredients used to produce the medication was suspended in China due to Covid–19. Later, India introduced lockdown measures that similarly slowed down production.

The company selling the medication in Belarus was notified of the delivery delays, but did not take any measures to prevent a shortage. Therefore, our association informed the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus about the results of our monitoring of the procurement situation. The reaction of the Ministry was the announcement on April 10 of an emergency purchase of a 3-month volume of ARVs – medicine containing tenofovir.

At the same time, we were in touch with pharmaceutical companies, exploring the possibility of an emergency supply of necessary medicines to Belarus in the context of the disruptions in logistics caused by Covid-19. Companies that did not register medications in Belarus, but did have a WHO prequalification or were registered in ICH countries, could also participate in the competition. At this time, the Mylan company, which won the competition, has already delivered medicines to Belarus. They were cleared by custom services, and permission is received from the Center for Expertise on Importation.


The People PLUS Association, together with UNAIDS, once conducted an online survey entitled “Assessing the Needs of People Living with HIV in Belarus in the Context of Coronavirus”. During this survey, it turned out that many PLHIV were not able to fill out the questionnaires on their own and had to call in the help of peer consultants.

And, as it turned out, many of our activists do not have sufficient proficiency in the usage of computer programs and applications either.

For this reason, UNAIDS has begun supplying our organisation with IT-classes for conferences, surveys, etc. Also, we are planning to equip a computer classroom for teaching computer literacy, starting with the basics. Such training is necessary primarily for the elderly, as well as those who have been released after a long period of imprisonment.

Belarus counts around 600 people living with HIV over the age of 60. For them, the ability to use Internet resources will be of much help. They will get access to necessary information, as well as to the website, our Facebook groups and, which will in turn contribute to improving commitment to continue ART. The possibility to communicate with relatives and friends living far away through social networks will help to improve the psycho-emotional state of PLHIV.

In other words, the changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic requires the adaptation of traditional working methods. To make our work in improving the commitment to ARV therapy more efficient, we want to shoot videos on various topics that will be used in the work of equal consultants with their clients. These videos will be part of the online commitment trainings that will be available, also for PLHIV in prisons.

COVID-19 will cause even more TB deaths

KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation,  a partner of AFEW International in tuberculosis activities, sounds the alarm: COVID-19 will cause even more TB deaths.

“Millions of TB patients worldwide are fighting for their lives and now have to cope with COVID-19 as well. Extra support for these vulnerable people and their families is needed”, says Agnes Gebhard, technical director of KNCV.

Like COVID-19, TB knows no borders. Worldwide, 1.5 million people, including 205,000 children, die of TB every yearmainly in Africa and (Central) Asia. TB in most cases, damages the lungs, which also makes TB patients more vulnerable to the Coronavirus. In addition, Coronavirus has many indirect consequences for TB patients. Research from  Stop TB Partnership predicts that between now and 2025, a staggering 6.3 million more people will develop TB and 1.4 million more people are expected to die, as cases during lockdown go undiagnosed and untreated. This will set back global efforts to end TB by five to eight years.

The lockdowns, closed borders, and the fact that health care systems need almost all their capacity to fight the COVID-pandemic interfere with TB services, for example:

  • fewer patients with presumptive TB report themselves because they fear becoming infected with COVID-19 at the hospital;
  • in many places active detection and testing of people with presumptive TB has come to a standstill;
  • support for patients at home is under pressure because people are no longer allowed and afraid to walk on the street;
  • it has become difficult or sometimes even impossible to collect medication daily, or weekly, at a health facility, as patients commonly do in many countries;
  • the production and supply of TB drugs and diagnostics are getting disrupted

As a result, many TB patients can’t continue their treatment appropriately, causing their TB symptoms to worsen, they may remain contagioustoothers and the right treatment can come too late.

With timely and proper treatment, however, TB can be cured. KNCV is currently making every effort to support TB programs with alternative approaches to ensure all TB patients get their medicines without interruption of care. For example, by offering and helping to roll out digital solutions with which nurses can continue to support their patients. KNCV and its partners also contribute to ensuring that TB tests, if possible, are still carried out despite the pressure on health centers.

Gebhard:  “TB is a disease of poverty and affects the most vulnerable people in many countries. The COVID pandemic is also hitting hardest among more impoverished populations worldwide. Moreover, without testing, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the two diseases. We must prevent these people from becoming further affected and from having no access to TB tests, medicines, and care.”

At the same time, KNCV is also committed to fighting COVID19. Because where the diseases reinforce each other, the TB and COVID-19 experts do the same. Infection prevention and contact investigation are two pillars of TB control. These experiences are used worldwide to combat the COVID pandemic.

For reference

AFEW Partnership‘s activities are also aimed on ending tuberculosis in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. For 5 last year in Kazakhstan, KNCV and  AFEW Kazakhstan in Almaty were developing a model for structural collaboration between public health (TB, HIV, primary health care) and non-public sector. AFEW International was coordinating this project.

Kazakhstan was one of the three countries selected to develop a model to strengthen engagement with non-public sector for improved quality of TB/HIV services. Almaty was chosen for the implementation of the model because it is the largest urban area in the country. The project supported the establishment of a network of NGOs that have the capacity to provide TB and HIV care to the most vulnerable populations, and build a partnership between public and non-public sectors to improve access to TB and HIV care by the development of a referral mechanism. Within the program a TB PhotoVoices Project was developed. 

In September 2019, the ‘Building Models for the Future’  project ended.



COVID-19 Recovery: Building Back Better statement

AFEW International signed COVID-19 Recovery: Building Back Better statement and became a member of CoNGO membership (Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations).

COVID-19 Recovery: Building Back Better

Seventy-five years ago, the world was in a deep crisis after the devastation of World War II. Negotiations between governments began that resulted in the founding of the United Nations in 1945 and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Common efforts to fight poverty and illiteracy, protect human rights, strengthen cooperation and maintain peace have been steps towards a vision of the world “free from fear, free from want” imagined in the UN Charter.

2020, the international community honors the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. We embarked on a Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals to accelerate sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. However, we now live in a world struggling to address the coronavirus pandemic which has dramatically affected political, economic and social life across the globe.
During a crisis, global cooperation and solidarity are urgently needed, but nationalism, racism, intolerance, xenophobia and border closures have too often prevailed. Measures to fight the pandemic have led to restrictions of long-established civic rights and democratic structures. An effective global response will require building consensus and strengthening concerted action to mitigate the multiple challenges we all face.
The pandemic is casting a shadow on hopes for sustainable development, achievements in the status of women, and other human and environmental concerns. The impacts of the virus magnify existing inequalities and vulnerabilities, making us painfully aware of gaps in social protection systems. Before COVID-19, over one billion people were without access to basic human needs, and 700 million were living in extreme poverty, mostly women and children. In many countries, health and social protection systems are inadequate, revealed by the lack of provisions to protect and test medical staff and treat the infected. Older persons are particularly vulnerable to the disease and face increased discrimination.

The pandemic has led to significant restrictions on people’s freedom of movement and peaceful assembly; the misuse of emergency measures may further erode human rights. We have seen authoritarian forces seize the opportunity to expand their power, which has adverse impacts on civic space and the ability of communities and individuals to exercise their rights. The prospects of a long-term global recession raise serious concerns over how long and to what extent restrictions will be in force. After the public health crisis recedes, we must ensure that measures curtailing civil liberties are fully lifted to protect democratic institutions and citizen participation. We representatives of international NGOs in consultative relationship with the UN fear that while attention is focused on the global health crisis, efforts to address the ongoing climate crisis, achieve sustainable development and gender equality, protect human rights and promote peace are being neglected.

We continue to work in partnerships to develop a global plan of action to address the multiple challenges we all face, while promoting human rights, democracy, climate action, gender equality, justice, peace and security, and sustainable development. We are determined to emerge from this crisis and build a better world for all.
We call on the 193 UN Member States to renew their commitment to the UN and to turn this international crisis into an opportunity, using it as a starting point to rebuild economies that are inclusive, and based on sustainable production and consumption:
 to accelerate climate action by rebuilding economies, transport and industries in a carbon neutral manner;
 to recognize and address the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on women, children, older persons, and other vulnerable and marginalized groups;
 to change the militarized discourse of war and threat to one of care and solidarity, within countries as well as between Member States;
 to provide universal access to and funding for health and social protections for all people;
 to reallocate military spending and increase investments in meeting human needs to create a healthier and more peaceful planet and achieve Agenda 2030;
 to support non-governmental community organizations, human rights defenders and women’s groups, and include them in national and global recovery and reconstruction efforts;
 to strengthen the UN System and provide the necessary funding to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure inclusive societies and economies, a sustainable environment and a more peaceful world.
Only if we continue to work in partnerships and promote human rights, democracy, rule of law, climate action, gender equality, sustainable development, peace and security, can we emerge from this crisis and build a better world for all.

Vienna, Austria
12 May 2020


Endorsements as of 22 May 2020
(To endorse, please email
1. AFEW International
2. Agrenska Foundation
3. African Action on Aids
4. Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS)
5. Arab Society for Academic Freedom (ASAF)
6. Centro de Culturas Indigenas del Perú (CHIRAPAQ)
7. Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship
with the United Nations (CoNGO)
8. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
9. Dianova International
10. Dominicans for Justice and Peace
11. Dominican Leadership Conference
12. Election Network in the Arab Region (ENAR)
13. Environment Liaison Centre International (ELCI)
14. European Federation of Older Students at Universities (EFOSU)
15. Federation of American Women’s Clubs Association (FAWCO)
16. Fundacion Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FGDD)
17. Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer (FEIM)
18. Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD)
19. Graduate Women International (GWI)
20. International Alliance of Women (IAW)
21. International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP)
22. International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)
23. International Council of Psychologists (ICP)
24. International Council of Women (ICW)
25. International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE)
26. International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)
27. International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
28. International Inner Wheel (IIW)
29. International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS)
30. International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (ISMUN)
31. Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers (CFMSA)
32. Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, Inc.
33. Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani (OSMTH)
34. Servas International
35. Sisters of Charity Federation
36. Socialist International Women (SIW)
37. Society for International Development – Vienna Chapter (SID)
38. Soka Gakkai International (SGI)
39. Soroptimist International (SI)
40. Trust for Youth Child Leadership (TYCL)
41. Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
42. United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society (UMC-GBCS)
43. Universal Esperanto Association (UEA)
44. Verein fuer Foerderung der Voelkerverstaendigung
45. Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (DBA Women First International Fund)
46. Women´s Federation for World Peace international (WFWPI)
47. World Student Christian Federation (WSCF)
48. World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ)
49. Zonta International (ZI)

Statement in PDF

“Civil Society Organisations in the EU and Russia in the Times of Pandemic: Victims or Heroes?”

EU-Russia Civil Society Forum is organizing an open online discussion on the roles of civil society organisations in the current situation of pandemic in different EU member states and Russia.

The discussion will take place on Friday, 29 May 2020, 3pm-4.30pm CET/ 4pm-5.30pm MSK via Zoom. The language of the discussion is English. No interpretation provided.

Please, register here before 28 of May.

Questions to be discussed:

• How is the pandemic affecting civil society organisations?
• What have been the most interesting and inspiring reactions among civil society actors to the unfolding crisis?
• Are there any new campaigns, initiatives or forms of collaboration visible in the countries researchers represent?
• Are the authorities and civil society actors going the same path in the times of a pandemic?

The speakers will base their findings on concrete empirical examples and specifically address initiatives from different states, which might be important for other countries as well.


• Elena Belokurova, German-Russian Exchange (St. Petersburg, Russia)
• Andrey Demidov, Central European University (Hungary)


• Pavel P. Antonov, BlueLink Foundation (Bulgaria)
• Danijel Baturina, University of Zagreb (Croatia)
• Andrei Dobre, University of Bucharest (Romania)
• Pavel Havlíček, Association for International Affairs (Czech Republic)
• Ulla Pape, Free University Berlin (Germany)
• Filip Pazderski, Institute of Public Affairs (Poland)
• Yulia Skokova, Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia)

The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum was established in 2011 by non-governmental organisations as a permanent common platform. At the moment, 182 NGOs from Russia and the European Union are members or supporters of the Forum. It aims at development of cooperation of civil society organisations from Russia and EU and greater participation of NGOs in the EU-Russia dialogue. The Forum has been actively involved, inter alia, in the questions of facilitation of visa regime, development of civic participation, protection of the environment and human rights, dealing with history and civic education.

In April 2020, the Forum launched a new section on its website “COVID-19: Citizens in Action”, which has been gathering related civil society initiatives from 27 EU member states, the UK and Russia. See more information in English at, in Russian at

Global Fund COVID-19 Flexibilities and Response Mechanism

One of the largest multilateral organizations in global health, the Global Fund is acting swiftly and effectively in response to COVID-19, providing additional funding.
Eligible countries can access support through grant flexibilities and the COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM). Each country chooses whether they would like to fund their COVID-19 response from current country grants flexibilities and/or access additional funds from C19RM.

Grant Flexibilities

Grant flexibilities, announced on 4 March 2020, allow countries with current grants to: 1) use up to 5% of their current grant value if there are savings, and/or 2) reprogram up to 5% of the value of a grant to meet immediate COVID-19 response requirements. Repurposing equipment already purchased through a Global Fund grant is also an option to respond to COVID-19.

Countries are encouraged to analyze current grant savings and reprogramming before applying for C19RM.

Total available funding for flexibilities is up to US$500 million. As of 5 May 2020, funding has been approved for 73 countries and five regional grants for a total of US$109 million. This information is updated regularly through the Situation Reports on the Global Fund website.

Eligibility: Countries and multi-country grants with current grants from the 2017-2019 allocation period.
Application process: For the use of savings and reprogramming, the Principal Recipient issues a request to the Global Fund’s Fund Portfolio Manager. Preferably, it is endorsed by the CCM. The Global Fund responds within five working days.
The request should include a brief budget, describe the activities to be funded, how it will fit into the national response, and outline potential consequences to and mitigants for HIV, TB and malaria programming.

Implementation: Global Fund financed activities must be implemented by an existing Principal Recipient (and/or existing Sub-Recipients). The main investment categories are (a) protecting Global Fund disease program against negative impact of COVID, (b) direct responses against COVID, and (c) address immediate gaps in health and community support systems. Guidance on eligible activities is available on the Global Fund’s website.
Funding Source: Countries can use savings or reprogram current grants, up to 10% of the grant value.

COVID-19 Response Mechanism

The COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM), approved in April 2020, authorizes US$500 million in
funding in addition to grant flexibilities. C19RM can be used across the three diseases and the health
system, even if a country only has a single Global Fund grant for one component. The CCM will assess the
most urgent needs and direct activities through one or more of the principal recipients.
Total available funding: USD$500 million, initially. Public and private donors are able to direct additional
resources to the Global Fund through C19RM to scale up the COVID-19 response and support systems for
health across the grant portfolio.

Eligibility: Countries with a Global Fund allocation for the 2020-2022 period can access an amount
equivalent to up to 10% of their allocation. This ceiling includes the use of savings and reprogramming under existing grants.
The immediate additional amount of funds available for each country is 3.25% of the 2020-2022 allocation
period, provided the country has not yet used savings and reprogramming exceeding 6.75% of this
Application Process: The application is submitted through the CCM or the regional coordinating
mechanism preferably by 31 May and no later than September 2020 so that emergency funding can reach
countries as soon as possible.

The funding request is divided into two parts:
• Priority 1 for the most urgent activities. This is capped at 3.25% of the 2020-2022 country
allocation. The Global Fund will respond within 10 days to this request.
• Priority 2 for supplementary interventions. This is capped at 10% of the 2020-2022 country
allocation minus the amounts already requested for C19RM Priority 1 and approved grant
flexibilities/reprogramming. These supplementary requests could be awarded later if more funds are
made available.
• All applications should demonstrate that an inclusive engagement with civil society and key affected
populations took place to formulate the demand.
C19RM funds are additional and will not be deducted from the 2020-2022 allocation. Funding must be fully
utilized by June 2021.

Countries are asked to submit this request form completed and endorsed by the CCM to with the Global Fund Country Team in copy. Instructions to apply can be found here.

Implementation: C19RM funds must be implemented through an existing country grant and principal
recipient, regional and multi-country grants. It can be used for three areas, to:
1. mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on current HIV, TB and malaria programs.
2. reinforce the national COVID-19 response
3. invest in urgent improvements in health and community systems

WHO EURO Regional Civil Society Coordinating Group calls to action in response to COVID-19

During this time in which the COVID-19 pandemic is rampant, taking human lives and undermining health-care systems, we as members of the Regional Collaborative Committee on Accelerated Response to Tuberculosis, HIV and Viral Hepatitis (RCC-THV) hosted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, are concerned with the safety and health conditions of people affected by HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and viral hepatitis.

These populations are exposed to stigma and discrimination, and lack access to quality health services, universal health coverage, information and social support – which makes them more vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We call on national governments, development partners, United Nations agencies and civil society to increase their efforts to ensure rights- and equity-based approaches in the provision of information, care and social support to the most vulnerable communities and key populations affected by the three diseases.

We urge countries and partners to:

  1. Follow evidence-based recommendations in the COVID-19 response:
  • Follow evidence-based recommendations on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, by creating an enabling environment for physical distancing and other protection measures recommended by WHO as a mitigation strategy to flatten the disease curve.
  • Follow the steps of the WHO readiness assessment to ease the phases of lockdown.
  • Ensure ongoing communication in line with WHO recommendations and based on evidence to educate populations and communities affected by the three diseases, keeping them informed of the developments on COVID-19 through the variety of media resources and channels, including printed and broadcast media, social media and community resources.

2. Ensure human rights, equity and dignity in the response to COVID-19:

  • Ensure that the health sector response to COVID-19 is gender and rights-based, equitable and respectful of the dignity of people. Equity implies addressing the health and socioeconomic disparities of vulnerable communities, including people affected by TB, HIV and viral hepatitis.
  • Prevent punitive practices towards people infected with COVID-19, including people coinfected with COVID-19 and one or more of the three diseases, by encouraging economic and psychosocial support and access to health and information, while also paying attention to gender disparities.
  • Ensure and facilitate reporting of human rights violations and gaps in care in order to evaluate and improve care and be prepared for a next wave of COVID-19.

3. Mitigate the risks and ensure programmatic and contingency planning:

  • Apply the risk assessment and contingency planning tools, thus allowing systematic assessment of risks and planning of possible mitigation measures, changing the modes in service delivery, estimating the need for additional resources and strategizing sources of funding.
  • Have national programmes, United Nations agencies and civil society take all necessary actions in the introduction of measures and risk mitigation tools to ensure sustainability of HIV, TB and viral hepatitis prevention and care services and the safety of affected people and communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Develop supportive and risk mitigation strategies for people in congregated settings (including people affected by TB, HIV and viral hepatitis) including prisons, migrant camps and long-term care facilities, where the implementation of physical distancing measures might require special efforts, using available WHO guidelines. Governments should consider release of prisoners convicted of minor offences, as a COVID-19 impact mitigation strategy.

4. Ensure synergies between health services and resources:

  • Actively engage health services, including national programmes to combat TB, HIV and viral hepatitis, in the effective and rapid response to COVID-19, while ensuring continuation of essential health services and operations dealing with underlying health problems, to protect the lives of people with TB, HIV, viral hepatitis and other diseases or health conditions.
  • Adopt and leverage measures from successful TB strategies and services – particularly those relevant for infection control, contact tracing, differential diagnoses (triage of patients with respiratory infections), other disease control tools (chest X-ray, computer tomography, polymerase chain reaction etc.) and existing diagnostic capacities available in TB, HIV and viral hepatitis laboratory services – in the response to COVID-19, by following relevant WHO recommendations, while ensuring that progress made in TB, HIV and viral hepatitis prevention and care is not reversed and services are maintained.

5. Provide psychosocial support:

  • Mitigate the negative impact on mental health of anxiety and fear affecting those currently isolated – especially people living with HIV, TB and viral hepatitis who have complex needs or underlying medical conditions – with psychosocial support measures, including virtual/remote psychological support groups, helplines and peer-to-peer counselling.
  • Devote special attention to protection of women and children affected by the diseases, who may experience domestic and gender-based violence while in isolation.
  • Ensure that people, including those living with any of the three diseases, are safeguarded from catastrophic losses of income and economic hardship through social protection and welfare mechanisms.
  • Work with development partners, including the United Nations Family and the World Food Programme in particular, to provide people in need with food and other support, beyond allocations of national welfare and crisis support budgets. 

6. Ensure continuity to simplified and easily accessible services:

  • Ensure innovative, simplified and easily accessible preventive services, diagnostics and treatment, including treatment monitoring and support services for people living with TB, HIV and viral hepatitis.
  • Put in place alternative solutions for the delivery of diagnostics and treatment services close to patients and vulnerable populations to guarantee their uptake/continuation, such as take-home doses or home delivery of TB, HIV and viral hepatitis medicines and organization of opioid substitution therapy take-home doses for people who use drugs, as well as access to take-home naloxone for overdose management.
  • Decentralize the provision of antiretroviral therapy, oral direct-acting antivirals, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and harm reduction services for people who inject drugs, to make them available in local medical and nongovernmental organizations, while providing treatment and adherence support through confidential, safe and user-friendly digital means.
  • Increase access to HIV self-testing and different preventive supplies (condoms, syringes and other paraphernalia).
  • Make sure services are accessible to local citizens, stateless people and foreign nationals who are confined and cannot return to their country of citizenship.
  • Support civil society to complement the government’s response to COVID-19 and to ensure that TB, HIV and viral hepatitis services are continued during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in resource-poor settings, by spreading evidence-based messages, participating in the delivery of medications to TB, HIV and viral hepatitis patients, providing support and delivering social benefits.

7. Protect the health and security of frontline and community workers:

  • Fully supply frontline health-care workers, community health workers and community volunteers, including those delivering services to groups affected by TB, HIV and viral hepatitis, with personal protective equipment (PPE), evidence-based information and training.
  • Protect against and mitigate burnout in health-care and community workers. Prioritize health-care and community workers in testing for the COVID-19 virus and offer them alternative housing during the COVID-19 response to protect their families.
  • Make sure health-care managers do not pressure health-care workers and do not silence them when they report inadequate PPE or work conditions.

Endorsed by the members of the RCC-THV
AIDS Action Europe (AAE). Michael Krone
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Zoya Shabarova

AFEW International, Anke Van Dam
Alliance for Public Health, Tetiana Deshko
Association “Stop TB Partnership, Tajikistan” (STBPT), Safarali Naimov
Association Youth for the Right to Live, Balti, Republic of Moldova Ala Iatco
Center for Health Policies and Studies (PAS Center), Republic of Moldova Stela Bivol, Svetlana Nicolaescu
Correlation European Harm Reduction Network, Eberhard Schatz
Civil Society Task Force on TB (CSTF), WHO Global TB Programme, Jamilya Ismoilova

Eurasian Coalition on Male Health (ECOM), Gennady Roshchupkin European

AIDS Treatment Group (EATG), Wim Vandevelde, Maka Gogia
European Liver Patient’s Association (ELPA), Marko Korenjak, Ivana Dragojević
Freelance consultant, Giedrius Likatavicius
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Sandra Irbe
Global Health Advocates, TB Europe Coalition, Marine Ejuryan
Global TB Caucus, United Kingdom, Kate Thompson HIV TB Response, United Kingdom Paul Thorn
International Council of Nurses (ICN), Carrie Tudor
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Budapest, Hungary, Davron Mukhamadiev, Lasha Goguadze
INTILISH, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Tatyana Nikitina, Dmitrii Subotin
Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Special Advisor for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Michel Kazatchkine
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Regional Support Team
Naira Sargsyan, Koch-Metschnikow-Forum (KMF),

Akkon University, Timo Ulrichs

LHL International, Norway, Mona Drage
LILA Milano – Italian League for the Fight against AIDS, Lella Cosmaro
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Jay Achar
MSF Denmark, Hanne Klink Epstein
National Association of TB “SMIT” Balti, Republic of Moldova, Oxana Rucsineanu
Partnerships in Health, Aida Kurtovic
Regional Expert Group on Migration and Health, Daniel Kashnitsky
Result UK, United Kingdom Rachel Horne, Anete Cook
Russian Nurses Association, Russian Federation, Valentina Sarkisova
Stop TB Partnership, Viorel Soltan, Asgar Ismayilov

TB Alert, United Kingdom, Paul Sommerfeld
TB Europe Coalition (TBEC), Yuliya Chorna, Yuliia Kalancha
UNITE (Global Parliamentarians Network), Gefra Fulane
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Rosemary Kumwenda
Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board, Pierre Van Damme
Vladimir Regional TB Control Center, Russia Federation, Grigory V Volchenkov
World Hepatitis Alliance, Cary James

Position Statement of the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs on Covid-19

COVID-19 has put the world in the middle of a pandemic, resulting in unprecedented health and economic crisis. The pandemic has a particularly strong impact on the most vulnerable citizens of the European Union.
We – the Civil Society Forum on Drugs – would like to respond as regards the essential needs of People Who Use Drugs and ask for your guidance and coordination to support the EU Member States.
Many people who use drugs are specifically vulnerable due to their health vulnerabilities (often related to long-term diseases and other conditions which reduce the immune system), their social and economic situation (often combined with homelessness) and other factors, such as social isolation, stigma and criminalization.
Many marginalized people who use drugs lost their livelihood and housing due to the lockdown measures and urgent action is needed to prevent a humanitarian crisis. Indeed, as indicated by the United Nations expert on the Right to Health, “vulnerable groups of people who use drugs should be recognized as a high-risk population in order to mitigate the spread of the pandemic”.
Nevertheless, many EU members states have failed, so far, to develop and implement effective responses to protect and support this group. The European Monitoring Center on Drugs and Drug Addiction states, that “the current public health crisis raises serious additional concerns for the wellbeing of people who use drugs, ensuring service continuity for those with drug problems, and the protection of those offering care and support for this population”.
Therefore, the Civil Society Forum On Drugs calls on the European Commission to specifically address the vulnerable position and needs of people who use drugs and support member states and service providers with guidance. Support measures for people who use drugs should include:
• Acknowledging drug services as essential socio-sanitary services in order to ensure appropriate support from the authorities
• Ensuring the availability of personal protective equipment (disposable masks, hand sanitisers etc.), and, if needed, food, water and basic hygienic tools in every drug service setting for service providers, peer workers, and clients (including in prisons)
• Ensuring that people who use drugs have ongoing and unrestricted access to drug treatment and harm reduction services (e.g. including Opioid Substitution Treatment-OST, provision of clean needles and other drug using paraphernalia, and naloxone)
The Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) is an expert group of the European Commission, created in 2007 on the basis of the Commission Green Paper on the role of civil society in drugs policy in the EU.
The CSFD membership comprises 45 CSOs from across Europe and representing a variety of fields of drug policy, and a variety of stances within those fields.
Its purpose is to provide a broad platform for a structured dialogue between the EC and the European civil society which supports drug policy formulation and implementation through practical advice.

This briefing paper is developed in the framework of the European Civil Society Forum Project, which is financed by the European Commission.
• Amending regulation that ban or limit take-home doses of OST and harm reduction materials, to avoid unnecessary contact
• Recommending consistent implementation of drug demand reduction based on minimum quality standards to meet the real needs of target populations in this time of pandemic crisis, especially people who use/inject drugs, professionals working with this target group, young people at risk, homeless, unemployed etc.
• Ensuring access to basic services and day and night shelter facilities – with adequate safety precautions in place – for people experiencing homelessness without overcrowding and support housing first initiatives
• Providing income substitution and housing support for marginalised communities who lost their livelihood due to the crisis
• Reducing prison population through early releases, pardons, amnesties and non-coercive alternatives to incarceration for of people arrested for, charged with or convicted of minor or nonviolent drug offences, while ensuring continuity of care and access to adequate housing after release
• Deprioritising law enforcement responses to the utmost extent as these measures increase further criminalisation, can obstacle the protection of individual and public health (including by leading to unsafe drug consumption practices) and hinder reaching out to people who use drugs and the provision of support services
• Supporting initiatives and emergency services with adequate funding opportunities (including solidarity funds for other regions, especially Eastern Europe and Central Asia)
• Recommending significant investments in evidence-based prevention programmes and other interventions in the field of mental health as a consequence of present pandemic crisis and lockdown measures (e.g. many people suffer from mental health issues due to lockdown, and selfisolation, such as anxiety, depression, stress etc.)
• Endorse measures concerning the re-entry and aftercare processes which has and will become very critical on people with substance use disorders (preventing relapses, vocations services due to the lack of employment, alternatives to social distancing)
• Support measures should be both during this critical period of social isolation and after. Once this health emergency phase is over, there will be an urgency to adopt concrete measures to mitigate the health and social consequences that this crisis will mean for person who use drugs. Moreover, it will be necessary to anticipate the movements that the drug market will experience and the effects this will have on people who use drugs.

Open CSFD-PositionPaper

COVID-19 and prison health

On this page you can find helpful information and verified resources about COVID-19 and prison health.

The page is continuously updated

The International Corrections and Prisons Association (a verified resource)  

Worldwide Prison Health Research & Engagement Network (WEPHREN) (a verified resource)

Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention. 

Source – WHO

Interim Guidance. COVID-19: Focus on persons deprived of their liberty.

Source – IASC – Inter-Agency Standing Committee

Position Paper COVID-19 preparedness and responses in prisons


COVID-19 pandemic: urgent steps are needed to protect the rights of prisoners in Europe. Statement by Commissioner Dunja Mijatović

SourceCouncil of Europe

Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty

SourceCouncil of Europe

Coronavirus: Healthcare and human rights of people in prison

SourcePenal Reform International

Appeal by European NGOs involved in the field of prison health and in the defence of the right to health protection for prisoners

COVID-19 in prison: the Council of Europe must lead on policies to address the Covid-19 challenges

SourceCouncil of Europe

COVID-19: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee issues “Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty”

SourceCouncil of Europe

COVID-19 population management strategy for prisons

Source –

UNODC, WHO, UNAIDS and OHCHR joint statement on COVID-19 in prisons and other closed settings

Source – UNAIDS