Brussels, 29 November 2017: Experts unveiled a set of recommendations on Wednesday to address health problems facing people living with HIV. Treatments are helping people with HIV live long lives, but they face higher risk than others of serious illnesses – from cancer to heart disease to depression.
As people living with HIV require access to a range of health services beyond just their HIV treatment, a coordinated and personalised approach to long-term HIV care is needed, according to the HIV Outcome recommendations, which were unveiled at an event at the European Parliament.
“There is huge room for improvement” said Nikos Dedes, Chair of the European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG) and Co-Chair of the HIV Outcomes Steering Group. “It is great that people living with HIV can live nearly as long as anyone else these days because of new treatments, but there are complicated health problems that are being ignored. The HIV Outcomes initiative has put together a list of suggestions that has the potential to improve the lives of Europeans who live with HIV.”
In a timely reminder ahead of World AIDS Day on Friday, 1 December, the HIV Outcomes initiative highlights that the advent of modern antiretroviral therapies (ART) has transformed the lives of people living with HIV. For those diagnosed and treated early, it is now a chronic, rather than a fatal, condition. However, this is no guarantee of good health outcomes or quality of life; further effort is needed to develop effective, lifelong approaches to the long-term treatment and care of people living with HIV.
To address these needs, the HIV Outcomes initiative has engaged in a year-long multi-stakeholder process to develop a series of five detailed policy recommendations. These call for an integrated and patient-centred approach to long-term HIV care, which should include services for the prevention, treatment and management of other health conditions (comorbidities), services for mental health conditions, personalised care plans, and advice and support on sexual and reproductive health. Other recommendations call for monitoring of how health systems currently respond to the long-term health challenges faced by people living with HIV as well as efforts to combat stigma and discrimination within health systems.
The three Member of the European Parliament (MEPs) supporting the event meeting, Christofer Fjellner (European People’s Party, EPP), Eva Kaili (Socialists and Democrats, S&D) and Gesine Meissner (Alliance for Liberals and Democrats in Europe, ALDE), agreed, “Having addressed the issue of longevity, society now needs to help people with HIV to retain good health and lead rewarding lives. As representatives of the European Parliament’s leading political groups, we fully support the aims of this initiative.”
The next step is to “road test” the recommendations at national level in two countries – Italy and Sweden – during 2018. Both have already demonstrated their commitment to people living with HIV; Italy has published a ‘White Book’ on the chronic care model for HIV, while Sweden is the first country to achieve the UNAIDs ‘90-90-90’ targets.
The learnings and best practice generated on a national level will ultimately be reported at a future event in the European Parliament in 2018 and should provide further refinements to efforts to improve the long-term health outcomes and quality of life of people living with HIV. It is time to expand our ambitions for the health and well-being of people living with HIV beyond just viral suppression.
The recommendations are available here
The event agenda is available here
The HIV Outcomes initiative reflects a widespread recognition among experts that important aspects of the health and social well-being of people living with HIV (PLHIV) receive insufficient attention from policy makers and healthcare providers. The initiative aims to make these aspects central to the overall HIV response. Governments and health systems must now respond to the fact that PLHIV are living longer and provide treatment and care that will enable PLHIV to remain in good health as they grow older and lead successful, productive and rewarding lives. The initiative is sponsored by Gilead Sciences and ViiV Healthcare.
HIV Outcomes Presidents
- John Bowis, OBE, former UK Health Minister and MEP
- Marc Danzon, former Director of the WHO Regional Office for Europe
HIV Outcomes Steering Group
- AIDS Action Europe: represented by Sini Pasanen
- AFEW International: represented by Anke van Dam
- East Europe & Central Asia Union of PLWH (ECUO): represented by Vladimir Zhovtyak
- European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG): represented by Mario Cascio
- Jane Anderson: Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London
- Georg Behrens: Hannover Medical School and German AIDS Society
- Antonella d’Arminio Monforte: University of Milan
- Nikos Dedes: Positive Voice
- Jeffrey Lazarus: ISGlobal, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona
- Richard Stranz: AIDES
- Industry represented by: Annick Manuel (Gilead Sciences) and Evelyn Schoedl (ViiV Healthcare)
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) (observer): represented by Teymur Noori
 The UNAIDS 90-90-90 target aim to achieve the following by 2020: 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.