Welcome to the October 2018 Sexual Health & HIV Policy EUROBulletin.
Our eFeature in this edition is an interview with Ben Collins. Ben is co-chair of the working group for European Testing Week, which this year takes place from 23-30 November. We spoke to Ben about testing week and how you can get involved.
Since the last edition, organisations around the world have marked World Contraception Day, International Safe Abortion Day, International Day of the Girl and Sexual Health Week, so there have been lots of opportunities for starting conversations, raising awareness and highlighting sexual and reproductive health issues in the media.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) launched a campaign on International Safe Abortion Day which will run for six months, until International Women's Day in March. Called I Decide, it aims to raise awareness of the harms endured by women who are denied safe and legal abortion. This remains a highly political issue, and is the focus of sustained campaigning and advocacy. In this edition, we highlight a new research paper, mapping the backlash against gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights in six European member states. On World Contraception Day, the European Parliament hosted the launch of a new advocacy document, Limited Access: Contraception Deficit in Europe, published by the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development, which targets policy makers from across Europe.
Other items to look out for in this edition include: a collection of recommendations from the World Health Organization on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues affecting adolescents; and new data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on drug-resistant gonorrhoea.
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Ben Collins is co-chair of the working group for European Testing Week, which this year takes place from 23-30 November.
In this eFeature interview, we spoke to Ben about the week and how you can get involved.
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Sexual health rights & advocacy
New advocacy document on contraception access in Europe
On World Contraception Day (26 September), a new advocacy document, Limited Access: Contraception Deficit in Europe, was launched in the European Parliament. Published by the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF), it targets policy makers from across Europe, the EU and at national levels. It follows on from the launch of the Contraception Atlas, earlier in the year, which scored European countries on their provision of contraception.
Progress report on child and adolescent health in Europe
A new progress report on child and adolescent health in Europe from the World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted areas where health outcomes are falling short. Issues of concern raised include mental health, obesity and sexual and reproductive health. The report highlights that one in three countries in the region do not offer legal access to contraception for people under 18 without parental consent. WHO has also released a collection of its current recommendations on evidence-based actions to address sexual and reproductive health and rights issues affecting adolescents.
Policy development & guidance
Postpartum family planning
On World Contraception Day (26 Sept), the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Reproductive Health and Research and HRP (the Human Reproduction Programme, run by United Nations agencies, WHO and the World Bank) highlighted the importance of provision of postpartum contraceptive methods. Women who have recently given birth are among those with the highest unmet need for contraception.
United Nations agencies pledge to end HIV, TB and viral hepatitis epidemics in Europe
At a high-level meeting on TB, 14 United Nations agencies pledged to bring an end to the HIV, TB and viral hepatitis epidemics in Europe. In a statement, they recognised the complex and systemic nature of the challenges, including inequality, stigma and socioeconomic factors.
Parliament & other European institutions
Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use
At a meeting in September, the European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) made recommendations for approval of two treatments for HIV: Delstrigo, which combines doravirine, lamivudine and tenofovir disoproxil; and Pifeltro (doravirine).
Funding for EPF project 'Parliamentarians Deliver'
The European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF) will receive a 3 million euro grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further its work catalysing action in the European Parliament on family planning, reproductive, child and adolescent health and universal health coverage in Europe and Africa.
EU Civil Society Forum calls for more action on HIV, TB and hepatitis
The EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis has criticised the publication of a European Commission Staff Working Document. The forum says that by publishing the lowest level policy document, the Commission has signalled that it does not intend to develop further policy for tackling the three diseases in the European region.
Treatment & service guidelines
New guideline aims to help reduce caesarean section rates
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new recommendations aiming to help reduce unnecessary caesarean sections. Globally, rates of caesarean sections have been increasing and many sections are unnecessary, putting women and their babies at risk. The new guidance contains non-clinical interventions, such as educational interventions.
New European HIV treatment reference group
Access to HIV treatment and care in Europe has improved in recent years, but remains low in eastern Europe and central Asia (28% in 2016). The WHO has convened a new European HIV treatment reference group to engage with the issue of scaling up treatment across the region, through capacity building, review of national policies, and guidance for countries to encourage faster uptake of recommendations.
Evidence, data & research
Persistent but stable levels of drug-resistant gonorrhoea reported
A new surveillance report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) shows that drug-resistant gonorrhoea continues to be an issue across Europe. The report finds high levels of azithromycin resistance, which poses a threat to the effectiveness of the current recommended treatment regimen.
Hepatitis epidemiology in Europe
A new technical report from ECDC examines the epidemiology of hepatitis B and C in selected population groups, including men who have sex with men and other groups at risk of sexual transmission of hepatitis. The report will contribute to European guidance for hepatitis testing. ECDC has also released an epidemiological update on the recent hepatitis A outbreak among men who have sex with men.
Hormonal contraception and migraine
The European Headache Federation (EHF) and the European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (ESC) have published a consensus statement on the effect of exogenous oestrogens and progestogens on the course of migraine in women of reproductive age.
Reports & resources
Study on backlash against gender equality and women's and girls' rights
The European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs has published a new research paper, designed to map the backlash against gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights in six member states (Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia).
CoPE fund open for applications
Call for applications for a CoPE (continuous patient education) grant are now open. The deadline for submissions is 1 November. CoPE provides funding to community-based organisations in Europe and Central Asia for the production and translation of patient education materials related to HIV and co-infections.
Buying HIV and STI testing kits online
The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is warning people who buy test kits for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV online to make sure that they are purchasing from safe and legitimate sources after seizing almost 10,000 unsafe kits since 2015.
Campaigns & other news
New campaign: I decide what happens to my body
The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has launched a new campaign, called I Decide. Over six months, it will raise awareness of the harms endured by women who are denied safe and legal abortion.
European Testing Week
European Testing Week is an initiative that was launched by HIV in Europe in 2013 to increase testing efforts and create awareness of the benefits of early HIV testing. Now in its sixth year, the fourth year hepatitis testing has been included, European Testing Week will take place from 23-30 November 2018.
World AIDS Day theme announced
World AIDS Day is held on 1 December every year. This year will be the 30th World AIDS Day and the international theme has been announced: Know your status.
ESC recent grant winners
The European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (ESC) provides grants for activities and research related to its aims.
Parliamentary question on European movements in opposition to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina must continue the fight against HIV and TB without Global Fund's aid.
Study in Denmark finds people living with HIV underestimate the harm of smoking.
Most pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) users in Berlin obtained it from informal channels.
The European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG) calls on Greek authorities to ensure that justice is done for HIV-positive human rights’ defender Zak Kostopoulos, who died following an attack in Athens.
The INDIT Foundation, which provides harm reduction services for people who use drugs in Hungary, says training pharmacy staff, governmental and social workers is necessary to improve integrated care.
HIV treatment in Malta is archaic, activist warns, with outdated drug regimens being prescribed.
Council of Europe decision calls on Poland to immediately grant women access to legal abortion care and services.
Portugal approves sale of test kits for HIV and hepatitis in pharmacies.
Russian Federation commits to reach 75% antiretroviral therapy coverage in 2019.
The Spanish Society of Contraception produced a manifesto for World Contraception Day.
The supply of medications, access to new HIV treatments, and staffing levels at HIV clinics could all be affected if there is a no-deal Brexit.