Highlights from the “U = U = U and I can do more!” webinar

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In parallel with the publication of the Mapping Paper “U=U Awareness-raising/Education Initiatives in HIV and non-HIV Care Settings”, EATG is pleased to share the main highlights of the bilingual (EN & RU) webinar “U = U = U and I can do more!” – An exploration of what we can do more to get the message across, which took place on Friday 18 February 2022.

 

The event was organised by the European AIDS Treatment Group in partnership with the #SoS_project 2.0, ICF “Alliance for Public Health” and with the financial support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and brought together 80 community members to promote awareness and a better understanding of U=U, encourage an open discussion on future action points and reiterate the ongoing commitment to a stronger endorsement of the U=U message.

 

After a PechaKucha-style overview of the U=U background, provided by Bruce Richman (Prevention Access Campaign), Willian Gomes (EATG) presented the key-findings of the mapping paper, which collected and reported on U=U awareness-raising initiatives that have been implemented by HIV care services and/or in non-HIV care settings in four EECA countries (Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Ukraine).

 

In the second part of the webinar, different actors were invited to share examples and experiences of good practices from Russia, Ukraine and Italy. This exchange was opened by Liliya Ten (Life4Me+), who provided a more comprehensive overview of the U=U Campaign in the EECA region. Following, Anna Koval (Public Health Centre of the MOH – Ukraine) focused on the Ukrainian current programmes, campaigns and future plans for a better regional uptake of U=U. Lella Cosmaro (Fondazione LILA – Milano) provided a detailed overview of the Italian National Consensus Conference and Statement on U=U. Finally, Olga Denisiuk (Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine) focused on the community support role in reaching HIV Undetectable Viral Load and presented Community Initiated Retention Intervention (CIRI) as an example of good practices.

 

A final open discussion was held to reflect upon current trends and focus on what can be done in the future for a better promotion and development of the U=U agenda. It is central to continue the research and provide more scientific data on U=U, while developing practical, interactive and country-specific advocacy strategies. Greater efforts and resources should be dedicated to a more inclusive and comprehensive coverage of U=U, encompassing breastfeeding, specific key populations (e.g., people who use drugs living with HIV) to enhance their visibility through more information and dialogue spaces.

 

Key takeaways

  • Prevention Access Campaign presents sustained efforts of U=U campaigns held in different countries, including Guatemala City, Auckland/New Zealand, Montreal/Canada, Kampala/Uganda, Kazakhstan, China, Russian, Zambia, Kenya and Vietnam.
  • As revealed by a study conducted in South Africa, a better understanding of U=U might lead to positive health outcomes, such as an increased uptake of HIV testing among cisgender male South Africans, improved mental and sexual health and an increased adherence to ARVs.
  • Through their U=U Campaigns, Life4Me+ has reached 3 million people in the EECA region, among which activists, experts, civil society and UNAIDS. In 13 out of 14 EECA countries, a total of 62 organizations and 11 governmental bodies have organised U=U awareness raising initiatives.
  • The MoH of Ukraine has made remarkable strides in promoting U=U and committed to continue with its regular updates, optimising timely HIV viral load testing coverage and expanding their regional informational campaign on U=U and PrEP for key populations.
  • In November 2019, the Italian National Consensus Conference was held to reach a common agreement based on the available scientific data on U=U and provide infectious disease specialists, people living with HIV and society as a whole with an accurate point of reference and a useful working tool to acknowledge that, with a stable virological suppression, the risk of HIV transmission equals to zero as long as adherence to treatment is maintained. The conference resulted in the publication of a consensus statement on U=U that includes guidelines to be integrated in official HIV documents.
  • The Alliance for Public Health has demonstrated promising gains in implementing the Community Initiated Treatment Intervention (CIRI) which advocates the removal of societal and legal barriers to service delivery, integrated HIV services to other existing services needed by people living with HIV and communities at risk. The importance of retention in care is underscored as a critical factor and is closely linked to the U=U awareness-raising initiative.

 

Resources

Click here  to watch the recording of the event!

 

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