Anke van Dam: “I am Looking Forward to an Exciting Year!”


IMG_1446

Author: Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International

AFEW International executive director Anke van Dam sums up the results of 2016 and gives introduction of AFEW activities for the upcoming year of 2017.

– How was the year of 2016 for AFEW?

– 2016 was a good year for us. We started with two big projects. First one is the second phase of the project Bridging the Gaps: health and rights for key populations (BtG). This second phase lasts until the end of 2020 and allows AFEW to continue with strengthening the capacity of local organisations in the field of harm reduction, client management, service provision and human rights. In the second phase of the BtG project, AFEW will explore the opportunities for the activities for labour migrants, rehabilitation and human rights violations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region.  For the second project, AFEW received a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to engage Eastern Europe and Central Asia into AIDS2018 – the international AIDS conference to be held in Amsterdam in 2018. AIDS2018 gives us a chance to focus on the ongoing increase of new HIV cases, an increased number of multi-drug resistant TB cases and a high prevalence of Hepatitis C in the region. At AIDS2018 we will work hard to highlight those concerns, but also the achievements to mitigate the epidemics. One of the pillars of this engagement is strengthening the capacity of community based participatory research. We received more than 200 applications for a training which AFEW organised for 24 participants from 11 countries of EECA in November. The training is the part of a full package of activities to ensure that we have an increased participation of representatives of EECA by an increased number of abstracts and presentations. AFEW International expanded its team to six staff members. I am very pleased with my colleagues, and feel confident that we as team can build on a better future for the region.

– What were the greatest achievements and challenges for the organisation?

– I was very happy that Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted us the project AIDS2018. For me, this is the evidence that we are recognized as a leading organisation in prevention, treatment and care of HIV, TB and viral hepatitis in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The increase of our annual budget in 2016 gave us the possibility to expand the team and therefore our contributions to projects, conferences, meetings etc. This leads to AFEW being seen as an important player in the HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health field for EECA. The challenge remains to get sufficient attention and awareness for the groups that we work for: the key populations at risk for HIV, TB and viral hepatitis. People who use drugs, sex workers, LGBTI and prisoners are the ones who are still discriminated and have the least access to the health services. Budgets for these groups are small, and there is still little acknowledgement of their needs from an individual and public health perspective. AFEW will continue working hard to advocate for their rights to health, and to ensure their access to health services. Furthermore, there is still little awareness about the HIV prevalence in Eastern Europe. I hope to be able to change that with our activities for AIDS2018.

– What new things or big changes that happened in 2016 for AFEW?

– In 2016, AFEW expanded its profile of capacity building organisation. We also offered capacity strengthening in community based research. I am proud of our e-learning modules on this topic. Our members of the AFEW network are developing themselves with specific specialisations. AFEW-Ukraine is building up a lot of expertise around young drug users; AFEW-Kyrgyzstan strengthens the capacity of key populations with regards to advocacy and active involvement in governmental bodies; AFEW-Tajikistan increases access to testing and treatment, they managed to get a licence for community based counselling and testing for HIV; AFEW-Kazakhstan is expanding its expertise on prison health. A big change of 2016 was the move to our new office. Now we have working space with a beautiful view on the river IJ in Amsterdam.

IMG_1438– What are the plans for the organisation for 2017?

– We changed our name into AFEW International, and we will no longer spell out AFEW. The reason behind this change is that we do much more than AIDS and HIV, however AFEW as a brand is well known. That is why we keep it as AFEW. A new logo will be presented soon. We have developed a new strategic plan 2017 – 2019, and it is the basis of our work in the coming years. We prepared a communication strategy that gives us guidance to promote AFEW and its work. 2017 must be the year when AFEW leaves its modesty behind, and becomes visible as the leader for the region. The preparations for AIDS2018 will take a lot of our energy. Many activities are planned to bring many representatives of governments, civil society, universities and other institutions to Amsterdam in 2018. I am really excited about the cultural fund that we have established. Cultural initiatives that address stigma and discrimination will be financially supported to present before and during the international AIDS conference. On March 28, we will organise ‘Culture Cures and Kills II’ – a symposium for students of all kind of studies about the challenges and successes of the fight against HIV, TB and viral hepatitis in EECA. This symposium will raise awareness about the diseases in this region among the younger generation, the upcoming young professionals. I hope that many get interested and want to find a job in this field and in EECA. Furthermore, after three years of being a network we, all AFEW members, will evaluate the network construction and discuss how we want to work together in the future. All members have developed and strategized their activities. How does this fit in the bigger picture of AFEW? The aim is a better understanding and added value to the network. I am looking forward to an exciting year!

Nearly two-thirds of European HIV cases are now in Russia

hiv-death-rate-globally

Source: ria.ru

The annual number of new cases of HIV increased by at least 8% in 2015 in the whole of the World Health Organization (WHO) European region, and by 60% in the last decade, according to last month’s annual surveillance report by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and WHO Europe.

A continued increase in new diagnoses in Russia was responsible for most of the increase. The previous year, as aidsmap.com reported, 60% of European-region new cases were in Russia. In 2015 this increased to 64% of all cases.

The 98,177 diagnoses recorded last year in Russia equate to one HIV diagnosis for every 1493 Russians each year. In comparison, the 55,230 diagnoses recorded in the rest of the WHO region represent one diagnosis for every 13,157 people – one-ninth as many per head.

The number of new HIV diagnoses in Russia has increased 15% in one year, 57% since 2010, and 133% since 2006. Russia admitted this year that more than a million of its citizens have HIV. This is 0.8% of its adult population and is at least the same number as the US in a country with 45% of the US population. At the current rate of increase, this prevalence will double to 1.6% in the next 12 years.

Excluding Russia, 46% of infections in the WHO Europe region were ascribed to heterosexual sex, 26% to sex between men, and 13% to injecting drug use – and less than 1% to mother-to-child transmission. In the last ten years, infections in men who have sex with men (MSM) have increased by 38% and in heterosexuals by 19%, but have fallen in injecting drug users by 38%. In Russia, heterosexual sex is the cause ascribed to half of all recorded cases and a third to injecting drug use.

WESTERN, CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

In western Europe (which also includes Israel and Greece for WHO’s purposes), and in the European Union (plus Norway, Switzerland and Iceland), the number of new cases of HIV have remained almost static. In western Europe about 30,000 new cases have been reported each year from 2010 to 2014 and in the EU 32,500. An apparent slight decline in 2015 (10% in western Europe and 8% in the EU/EEA) may be due mainly to delays in 2015 reports arriving.

Central Europe – which includes the former communist countries running from Poland down to the Balkans, and also Cyprus and Turkey – remains a low-prevalence area for HIV, but saw a 78% increase in infections from 2010. However, there are signs that a feared acceleration of HIV in these countries may have slowed, with only a 4% increase registered between 2014 and 2015, though this does conceal larger increases in infections in gay men in some countries, including Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. However, many of these countries still have the lowest rate of new infections in Europe, with Macedonia (one infection per 83,000 people last year) and Slovakia (one per 62,500) reporting the lowest rates.

In eastern Europe, which comprises all the former Soviet states (including Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which are in the EU) if Russia is excluded, the annual number of new diagnoses has stayed flat or fallen slightly (by 9%) since 2010, though the percentage due to heterosexual sex has more than doubled to 65% of the total and the proportion due to injecting drug use has fallen to 26% of the total. The slight overall fall in eastern Europe conceals big increases in some countries with relatively low HIV prevalence, including Georgia with a 48% increase since 2010, Cyprus with a 95% increase, and Belarus with a 116% increase.

INFECTIONS IN MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN

In western and central Europe the epidemic is increasingly concentrating in men who have sex with men. In the last ten years, the proportion of infections due to heterosexual sex in western Europe has fallen by 41% and to injecting drugs by 48%, while the proportion due to sex between men has increased by 7%.

The proportion ascribed to sex between men in eastern Europe is still only 4% – but this in fact represents a tenfold increase. In some states such as Belarus and Estonia, infections in MSM were regarded as scarcely existing ten years ago – which means that the 58 cases recorded in Belarus and the 18 in Estonia last year represent proportionally big increases. In Russia sex between men still officially only accounts for a tiny proportion of new HIV cases – 1.5%. However, WHO does not regard Russian data as “consistent” and excludes it from some of its analyses.

The increases in infections in gay men seem to be starting to occur in some countries further east than previously. Georgia, for instance, saw a nearly 50% increase in the annual HIV diagnosis total from 2010 to 2015, a 12-fold increase in gay men, and a threefold increase in MSM from 2014. Belarus saw a 166% increase in HIV cases and a fourfold increase in gay men. Ukraine reports similar increases in gay men against a background of falling diagnoses in other groups. Increases in MSM infections were also reported from the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. These increases are from a very low base, though, and may just represent that more men testing HIV-positive are prepared to admit they caught HIV from other men.

OTHER CHANGES IN INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES

One country that has seen big relative increases in HIV is Turkey. The 2956 cases reported last year represent a 5.5-fold increase over diagnoses in 2010 and a 62% increase in one year. Because Turkey is a populous country (75 million), this still represents a low rate of infection (one per 37,000 head of population per year, less than a third of the UK’s rate), but Turkey may be a country whose HIV epidemic is worth watching.

In the EU, Latvia and Estonia had the highest rates. While Estonia’s formely explosive needle-driven epidemic continues to shrink, new HIV cases have increased by 43% since 2010 in Latvia. Notably, Latvia has been till very recently the only WHO Europe country whose national HIV treatment guidelines still recommended treatment should not start till CD4 counts had fallen below 200 cells/mm3.

Western European countries that saw increases in recent years include Malta, where the new HIV diagnosis figures leaped by more than 50% last year and have risen more than fourfold since 2010, though the absolute number of people with HIV in this small island country is still low, at about 300 people in total.

Another country that has seen significant increases since 2010 is Ireland, with a 47% increase relative to 2010 and a 43% increase from 2014 to 2015 – again, mostly in gay men.

The UK still reported by far the largest number of new cases of HIV of any country in western Europe to ECDC – 6078 reported to ECDC last year, way ahead of France, with the second highest number at 3943. However, the annual diagnosis figure has fallen since 2005, as we reported last September, including for the first time a tiny (1%) decrease in diagnoses in gay men. The diagnosis rate per head of population, one per 10,638 people, was second only to Luxembourg’s in western Europe in 2014, but in 2015 was overtaken by Portugal, Ireland and Malta.

One needs to be cautious about saying HIV cases have fallen in specific countries because there is such variation in the number of delayed reports sent to ECDC. However, since 2010 there have been significant falls in HIV diagnoses, exceeding the falls seen in the UK, in France, Spain and Italy.

In France there appears to have been a significant drop of 30% in diagnoses notified between 2014 and 2015, and a 40% drop in gay men. Fewer than 1000 HIV cases were reported in French gay men last year, a third as many as in the UK. In contrast reported diagnoses have risen by 36% in Germany since 2010 (33% in gay men) and this country reported nearly as many new HIV cases as France last year.

eastern-europe-and-c-asia

Source: UNAIDS

MIGRANTS, LATE DIAGNOSES, AND AIDS

Over a quarter (27%) of new diagnoses in the WHO Europe region were in people not born in the country where they were diagnosed. While two-thirds of this 27% represent people from outside Europe, primarily high-prevalence countries, infections in migrants from outside Europe fell by 29% in the last ten years while infections in intra-European migrants increased by 59%.

Nearly half of all new diagnoses (48%) were in people with CD4 counts below 350 cells/mm3. The proportion of these late diagnoses was 55% in heterosexuals and 37% in gay men. It was also 64% in those over 50 years old. Over a quarter (28%) were diagnosed with CD4 counts below 200 cells/mm3, and 12% had an AIDS-related condition at diagnosis.

Regarding diagnoses of AIDS (in both newly-diagnosed people and the already diagnosed), there were 14,579 reported in the WHO European region last year. Diagnosis of any AIDS-related condition was extremely rare in central and western Europe – only one person per half a million head of population in central Europe, and one person per quarter million in western Europe. In contrast one person per 10,000 head of population had an AIDS diagnosis in eastern Europe, including Russia. This means that AIDS diagnoses in eastern Europe were more common than HIV diagnoses in all western European countries bar Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta.

INTERPRETING THE FIGURES

ECDC’s figures always need to be interpreted with caution. Russia, with its huge preponderance of HIV cases, reports a much more limited and more irregular set of figures to ECDC than most other countries. The efficiency of HIV surveillance and the proportion of late reports vary widely from one country to another.

The proportion of people diagnosed also varies widely. If testing rates increase in a country, then it may look as if new infections are increasing when they are not. Some countries, including large western European ones like the UK and Germany, do not collect centralised, verifiable figures for HIV tests. In those that do, testing rates vary hugely. In Kosovo, for instance, just three HIV cases were reported last year – but that is probably because only 1312 tests were conducted, representing 0.07% of the population. In contrast, Russia performed over 28 million tests – meaning it tested more than 20% of its adult population. Generally, HIV testing rates are higher in eastern Europe than they are in central and western Europe. This tends to mean that higher testing rates compensate for lower reporting rates.

It is in central European countries like Poland (0.62% of the adult population tested) and Serbia (0.71%) that low rates of testing imply low rates of diagnosis – meaning that there may be considerably more people with HIV in these countries than appears to be the case.

REFERENCE

The 2015 ECDC/WHO Europe HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report can be downloaded here.

Source: www.aidsmap.com

Bridging the Gaps in Women’s Hostel in Kyrgyzstan

img_0956

Leila and Sofia live in women hostel in Bishkek

Author: Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International

Five-year-old Sofia is playing with her mother’s telephone. The girl is sitting on the floor and is listening to the music. She is switching between the songs, watching videos, and trying to find her favourite track. There are four beds in a small room. At some moment, the girl puts the phone away and asks: “Mom, what will Santa bring me?”

“What would you like, dear?” she hears from her mother, and the broad smile appears on her face. “I would like him to bring me a kitten. I will feed it with milk.”

When the girl is smiling, she has cute dimples on her cheeks. She brings a toy – plastic alphabet with the buttons. She presses the letters and repeats them. Sometimes she gets the letters wrong, and then the mother asks her to do it again.

TELLS ABOUT HIV TO NEW FRIENDS

Sofia and her forty-year-old mother Leila live in the hostel that operates in the centre of adaptation and socialization of women – injecting drug users in the public fund Asteria in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Leila was recently released from prison.

img_0927

Leila is teaching Sofia an alphabet

“I do not have any relatives; I was raised in the orphanage. I got to prison when I was pregnant, and my daughter was born there,” Leila tells. “Now I work in the kitchen or wash the floors. Recently I went to Turkey, and wanted to find a job there, but I do not know Turkish language, and that is why it did not happen. By education, I am a seamstress and a pastry chef, but it is hard to find a job because I am HIV-positive. I am being asked about my diagnosis all the time, and I always have to go through medical examinations. Now I have found a job as a nursemaid, but I do not have anyone to leave my daughter with. She has to go to kindergarten, but all of them here are not free of charge. I will have to spend almost whole salary to cover the pay for kindergarten… I am currently waiting for the cash advance to pay.”

Leila says that she tells her new friends about her diagnosis, even though she does not always want to do it.

“I think, people with my disease should talk about it, and warn others as well. Now I also bring other people to get tested. I am telling them they have to do it, and that it is free of charge,” Leila says. “Of course, people treat me different when I tell them about my diagnosis. Yes, it is unpleasant, but I am happy that in this way I do something nice to others. Everybody should know such things.”

PRAYING FOR ASTERIA

Leila is worried that the hostel in Asteria can be closed. In that case, the woman can end up on the street. She does not have anywhere to go to.

“I should not be complaining; we have everything here. The main thing is the roof over your head,” the woman smiles and hugs her daughter. “I am very comfortable here. We receive medical treatment, there is a place to sleep, to do laundry. Every Sunday we go to church. In the church I always pray for this house, for people who help us here, and ask God that the organization has donors.”

img_0999

The head of Asteria Iren Ermolaeva shows the rules of the hostel

Leila says that she would like to move from the hostel in the future, but she does not have such possibility yet. She dreams of her own home, family, and work. She also wishes that the hostel will never close. People who work in Asteria have the same desire.

“We indeed often have problems with financing. Every year we do not know what to expect in the next one,” the head of the public fund Asteria Iren Ermolaeva says. “Our public fund is working since 2007, and the hostel – since 2009. We would like to have the whole range of services, but there is not enough financing these days. We know how to find the approach to women, we know how to create friendly atmosphere so that a woman would want to change her life for better herself, and we would like to use this knowledge. We feel sorry for our clients, and we would like to help them more.”

DREAMING ABOUT OWN HOUSE

Workers of Asteria also dream about purchasing the house where they will place the centre of adaptation and socialization of women – injecting drug users and the hostel. They have already found funds for the future house renovation, but cannot find money for its purchase.

“Then we would be able to have social entrepreneurship, maybe some little farm. In that way, we could at least not depend on donors in food,” the coordinator of the social services of the fund Tatiana Musagalieva is saying. “Until now, we rented all three houses for our centre.”

img_0978

Asteria workers Iren Ermolaeva (on the right) and Tatiana Musagalieva say that their organisation often has problems with financing

Thanks to “Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights for Key Populations” project from Public Foundation “AIDS Foundation East-West in the Kyrgyz Republic”, in 2016 Asteria could support four beds in the hostel. The project also helped with medicine and warm food.

“People often come to us to eat, to do laundry,” Iren Ermolaeva says. “Around 300 women come through our centre during one year. Leila, for instance, came here after she was released from prison. She has got all the necessary services, clothes, shoes, and got medical examinations. Leila was imprisoned for five years, and, now, due to the conditions that we have, she adapts and integrates into society. In this way, she becomes more confident in herself, can find a job and build her future.”

Improving Outcomes for People Living with HIV

2136950249_b3e5f6a6fa_bThis is a call to action for European governments, international organisations, patient organisations, and the wider health community to align on a new HIV policy agenda that addresses the crucial unmet needs of people living with HIV (PLHIV) – to ensure they can live longer in good health, and participate fully in society and the economy.

Current HIV policy frameworks rightly focus on prevention, diagnosis and effective treatment (viral suppression), but do not go beyond this to address other health and social challenges faced by PLHIV. In Europe, where viral suppression should increasingly be the norm, it is vital that policy makers and healthcare providers recognize these challenges and respond.

An integrated approach is needed to improve:

  • Health outcomes – by addressing the increased risk that PLHIV will develop other medical problems (co-morbidities) – including mental health issues.
  • Social outcomes – in particular by combating stigma and discrimination, and ensuring that PLHIV are able to secure and retain employment and housing.

Effective action to improve outcomes, and reduce the health burden and costs associated with HIV, can bring meaningful economic benefits and reduce demands on European healthcare systems.

We call on the EU and Member States to:

1. Revisit the Dublin Declaration on Partnership to Fight HIV/AIDS, and ensure that its monitoring adopts a ‘life-long’ approach to the health and social inclusion of PLHIV.

2. Identify and agree on policy indicators necessary to monitor and assess country performance in improving health and social outcomes for PLHIV.

3. Adopt in 2017 an integrated EU Policy Framework on HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and TB – thereby extending the focus of the EU Action Plan on HIV/AIDS, which comes to an end in 2016.

Background

Whilst important progress has been made in the global response to HIV/AIDS, with the European Union (EU) playing an instrumental role, the European region – and in particular Eastern Europe – now has the fastest growing HIV epidemic globally. 29,992 people were diagnosed with HIV in the EU/EEA in 2014. At the same time, PLHIV are living longer, which has created new challenges relating to the prevention, treatment, and management of co-morbidities.

With the EU Action Plan on HIV/AIDS expiring at the end of 2016, and the Dublin Declaration on Partnership to fight HIV/AIDS now more than a decade old, European governments and the EU institutions have an opportunity to make progress on their political commitment to fighting both the transmission of HIV, as well as its health and social impacts – including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Continuing challenges include the strengthening of prevention programmes, reducing late diagnoses, ensuring equity and universality of access, and the social consequences of HIV that stem from stigma and discrimination. Governments and health systems must respond to the fact that PLHIV are living longer. We must ensure that PLHIV remain in good health as they grow older, and can lead successful, productive and rewarding lives. This aspiration should motivate the HIV response in all European countries – not only those that already perform well in relation to the UNAIDS targets for diagnosis, treatment and viral suppression.

The Beyond Viral Suppression Initiative

The Beyond Viral Suppression initiative arises out of a shared recognition among leading HIV experts that there are crucially important issues relating to the health and social inclusion of PLHIV that have to date received insufficient attention from policy makers and healthcare providers, and which must now form part of our HIV response.

In an era when ageing populations and health system sustainability are central challenges for all European countries, the initiative will also aim to inform debates about cost-effective strategies for co-morbidity prevention and management, whilst ensuring patient-centered healthcare delivery. Our recommendations should therefore be of high relevance both to policy makers and the wider health community.

The steering group is co-chaired by: Nikos Dedes, the Founder of Positive Voice (the Greek association for PLHIV) and a Board member of the European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG); Professor Jane Anderson of Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London; and Professor Jeffrey Lazarus of ISGlobal, Hospital Clínic at the University of Barcelona, and CHIP, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen. The initiative is enabled by sponsorship provided by Gilead Sciences and ViiV Healthcare.

The initiative is developing a performance assessment of HIV services ‘beyond viral suppression’ – focusing on: access to appropriate health services; health outcomes – co-morbidity and co-infection prevention, and health-related quality of life; and social outcomes.

A research team supported by a study group of leading academics will seek to identify the policy indicators necessary to assess countries’ performance at improving health and social outcomes ‘beyond viral suppression’. Our aim is thereby to complement the work of other initiatives focusing on HIV prevention, diagnosis, and access to high quality treatment and care.

Community-Based Participatory Research: Call for Proposals

img_0902AFEW International in partnership with Flowz and in consultation with the Global Network of People living with HIV and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network is managing a small grants fund to support community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects in Eastern Europe and Central-Asia (EECA) region. The purpose of the community based participatory research small grants fund is to:

  • Increase CBPR research capacity in the EECA region,
  • Increase the body of CBPR research in the EECA region,
  • Support increased visibility and presence of CBPR from EECA at the International AIDS Conference 2018, which will be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Note: The selected CBO’s for the small grants fund are expected to submit an abstract for AIDS2018.

The small grants fund is part of a wider programme to build the research capacity of community based organisations in EECA region and increase meaningful participation of the region at the AIDS2018.  The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives financial support to the programme.

As a first step, a CBPR training took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in November 2016. 24 participants representing key populations and people living with HIV CBO’s from 11 countries across the EECA region attended this training. These 24 participants were selected from an applicants’ pool of more than 200 applicants.

Criteria for participant selection for the training were among others:

  • Based in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine or Uzbekistan,
  • Community based organisation and working with one or more of the following key populations: drug users, LGBTI, sex workers, or with people living with HIV,
  • A representative regional spread.

Following the training, participants will be able to access online training modules to further shape their research skills. These modules are also accessible for the training applicants who could not be accommodated for the training.

Overview of all CBPR project activities (2016 – 2018)

  • Call for proposals for small research grants (Dec 2016)
  • Selection research projects (Jan 2017)
  • Grants administration and dissemination (Feb 2017)
  • Research projects (Feb 2017 – Fall 2017)
  • Online modules for certification (Nov 2016 – April 2017).
  • Webinar on Data Analysis (late Spring/Summer 2017)
  • Workshop on Dissemination and Abstract Writing for up to 25 participants (Fall 2017)
  • Workshop on Presenting research findings for up to 25 participants (Spring 2018)
  • International AIDS Conference 2018, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (July 2018)

Call for proposals small grants fund

It is expected that grants awarded will be between € 5.000 and €10.000 (maximum).

Applications are strongly encouraged from the 24 training participants and requested only from the training applicants pool, no wider circulation.

Applications will need to be received by January 16th 2017.

Applicants will be informed on the outcomes of their application by the end of January 2017 or early February 2017.

Eligibility criteria for the call for proposals for community based participatory research

An applicant should:

  • Be a participant of the CBPR training held in November 2016, or training applicants, who could not be accommodated for the training
  • Be an organisation based in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine or Uzbekistan,
  • Be a community based organisation (CBO),
  • Be working with one or more of the following key populations: drug users, LGBTI, sex workers, or with people living with HIV,
  • Ensure that their application is able to demonstrate the meaningful and active participation of the community in the research, i.e. that it is truly community based and participatory,
  • Ensure that their research topic relates to HIV/AIDS (includes sexual health, TB, viral hepatitis, psychosocial aspects, treatment adherence, etc.),
  • Ensure that their application is focussed on explanatory, causal or intervention research. Meta analysis or policy analysis are NOT the purpose of this small grants fund.

The applications to the Small Grant CBPR proposals should be submitted online and in Russian or in English. If you are eligible for the call, please click here to start application.

AFEW Director is the Chair of TB/HIV Working Group

ankeAFEW executive director Anke van Dam became the chair of Wolfheze Working Group on TB/HIV collaborative activities. The group will document and promote the best models and identify research priorities of integrated TB/HIV care in the European region. Members of the group will also identify barriers in TB/HIV services and collaboration.

“I am very honoured to be part of the group,” – Anke says. – “AFEW is implementing integrated HIV/TB activities in the EECA region for quite some years now. I will bring this experience into the group, and hope to contribute to collecting best models. There is still so much to gain in improving the care and health of people living with both HIV and TB.”

Wolfheze TB/HIV Working Group started a year ago in The Hague, The Netherlands. There, Wolfheze and WHO National TB Programme Managers’ meeting participants discussed the need for strengthening TB/HIV collaborative activities in the context of the WHO End TB Strategy. They agreed to create a Working Group on TB/HIV collaborative activities taking into account specific challenges and opportunities in the WHO European region.

Community Members Learnt how to Do Research Themselves

img_1113

Author: Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International

24 participants from 11 countries took part in the community-based participatory research training in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 8-10 November. Three-day training equipped participants with the skills on how to conduct community based participatory research.

Participants learnt how to form community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnerships and how to access community strengths and dynamics. The trainers explained how to identify priority public health issues and research questions, how to design and conduct causal, intervention or policy research.

“Being the member of the community myself, I wanted to know about how to conduct the research in the context of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and people who use drugs. Researching is very exciting, especially if you can relate to the topic. Before I did not have any similar training, but now I already have some ideas for the future work,” –director of “Community of people living with HIV in Uzbekistan” Sergey Uchayev says.

Participants became “critical friends”

img_0863The e-learning course, developed by Health[e]Foundation, AFEW and FLOWZ, within the training was meant to equip community based organizations and community members with tools and resources to conduct CBPR.

“What inspired me about people in this workshop was that although they came here two days ago from 11 different countries, they were immediately working together as one group. They became so-called “critical friends” who help and support each other in shaping first ideas into very specific, good quality research plans,” says the project manager of Health[e]Foundation.

img_0637Training participants, lots of whom were members of the communities, got the skills in doing the research and came up with new ideas. They got to know about data collection methods and drafted their research designs. Participants also noticed the practical side of the training. “During the training I came up with many ideas and was able to structure my earlier knowledge for myself. I also started to understand who these researches are for, why they should be conducted and how the results could benefit the communities,” – director of public association “Ameliya” from Kazakhstan Natalya Zholnerova is saying. – “The atmosphere during the training helped studying and sharing my own knowledge. Now I understand more how to choose the region and target group, and what donors are paying attention to.”

Grants will be soon announced

img_1164AFEW International director Anke van Dam announced about the possibility to apply for grants that will support their research. Grants for community based organizations and community members will be announced soon.

“It is very valuable that there is a possibility to write a grant proposal and implement some project in the future,” – the volunteer of Belorussian MRF “Feniks” Kateryna Parfeniuk is saying. – “Every day of this training was useful for me, and now I have valuable instruments for my future work. Informal communication with the training participants provided me with some additional ideas.”

The training in Bishkek was the first step in the capacity building program for community based organizations in order to enable them to develop and conduct CBPR, analyze collected data and present them at the AIDS Conference 2018 in Amsterdam. The following trainings and webinars as well as the online e-course will support developing abstracts for the AIDS2018.

Further information will be available on AFEW website.

Online application for Community-Based Research training

The-main-square-of-Bishkek675AFEW (International) is organising a community-based research programme. The programme consists of several trainings and a small grants fund for community-based research projects. The programme is meant for communities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) and is aimed to result in the submission of abstracts for the International AIDS Conference 2018, which will be held in Amsterdam.

Please find herewith the link for the application here. If you have more questions about the application, please email us at research@AFEW.nl.

The training will take place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on 8, 9 and 10 November 2016. This training is the first step in a community-based research programme.

We are looking for motivated participants from the EECA region with a keen interest, some experience, and familiarity with community-based research. We foresee to invite two participants per organisation: one decision maker and one research implementer. The training is free of charge.

Following the training, you will be able to access online training modules to further shape your research skills. On a later level, training participants are expected to fill in an application form for the community-based research fund. This call will be released towards the end of 2016.

We are now accepting applications to attend the training. The deadline for application is Friday 9 September 2016.

Poster 200x150 1op10

AFEW Cooperates in Co-infection Prevention and Harm Reduction EU project

HA-REACT-logoAFEW became the collaborative partner of the Joint Action on HIV and Co-infection Prevention and Harm Reduction (HA-REACT) that addresses existing gaps in the prevention of HIV and other co-infections, especially tuberculosis and viral hepatitis, among people who inject drugs. This three-year project was launched in late 2015 with core funding from the European Union, and is being implemented by 23 partners in 18 EU Member States. Twelve collaborating partners are contributing additional expertise, among them the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

“Collaboration with HA-REACT is important for AFEW because we would like to explore how we can use the tools developed by HA-REACT for countries in our EECA region,” – AFEW executive director Anke van Dam says.

HA-REACT focuses particularly on the EU member states where there are obvious gaps in effective and evidence-informed interventions, or where such interventions are not being implemented at a sufficient level. HA-REACT also encourages the implementation of comprehensive harm reduction programmes at sufficient scale in all EU member states as an essential strategy for improving the prevention and treatment of HIV, TB and viral hepatitis.

Community-based research: the key population small grants fund AIDS2018

FB AIDS 2018 coverAs the HIV epidemic continues to grow in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, new, more relevant, interventions are needed to address this public health concern. Before such interventions can be implemented, the needs of certain communities at higher risk for HIV, TB and Viral Hepatitis need to be understood. Involving members of key population communities in research gives an opportunity to identify needs that are currently not being met. Community based research captures the actual situation on the ground more clearly and such research can be used as a powerful advocacy tool. By equipping community based organisations and community members with the tools to conduct research and collect data, research capacity will increase, and research results will reflect an inside perspective on needs and priorities.

Fund for community based research

Towards the end of 2016, AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW) will release a call for proposals for community-based organizations to conduct research to benefit key populations living in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). The proposals will be assessed by a steering committee. Activities proposed by grantees must contribute knowledge to improving the health of key population groups in EECA. The grantee must be a legally recognized community-based organization registered and operating in EECA. All awarded projects should be completed within 9 months.

Training and Guidance

Training and guidance on how to conduct the community-based research, write abstracts, and present and disseminate findings, will be provided to the grantees. We will be looking for participants with a keen interest, some experience, and familiarity with community based research. A first training, Tools for Change: conducting community based research, is being planned for October/November 2016, followed by a call for proposals, selection, and grant awards.

Monitoring

The awarded research projects will receive guidance and support from the AIDS2018 project team, with some logistical support provided by the AFEW secretariat.  The research report and other relevant materials will be shared via the websites of relevant parties (AFEW, GNP+, EHRN, and others), in other briefings, newsletters, and at meetings and workshops. We anticipate that you submit an abstract to AIDS2018, with the aim of presenting a poster, or an oral presentation.

If you would like to know more about, or be considered for, this unique opportunity to gather knowledge and raise the voice of key populations in research, and at AIDS2018, send us an email at research@AFEW.nl. We will send you the application form on request. Please feel free to get in touch with us with questions or remarks. AFEW is looking forward to implementing this project, with and for you!