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AIDS Action Europe

A network of HIV-related organisations in Europe & Central Asia, working towards a unified, more effective response to the region's HIV epidemic.

Real life clearinghouse

Courtesy of AIDS Action Europe

What we do

In the beginning, our work centred on conducting needs assessments, doing outreach to potential members and putting the infrastructure in place to create an effective organisation. Once we were established and well-positioned to make a difference in the region, we started implementing more project-based and advocacy work.

Advocacy:

Through advocacy we aim to:

  • Contribute effectively to regional and national policies related to HIV and AIDS;
  • Ensure that voices of civil society and people living with HIV are heard by policy makers and key stakeholders.

Since 2004 we have co-chaired the HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum (CSF) together with the European AIDS Treatment Group. The CSF is an advisory body to the European Commission. It facilitates the participation of NGOs –including those representing people living with HIV – in policy development and implementation and in information exchange activities. We believe that our advocacy was influential in assuring that the “Communication on Combating HIV/AIDS in the European Union and neighbouring countries 2009-2013” includes a human rights and universal access framework, as well as specific attention to most at-risk populations and harm reduction.

As a CSF member we bring key concerns and recommendations of civil society to the HIV/AIDS Think Tank. This is an advisory body of the EU member states to the European Commission.

Martine de Schutter on the AIDS Action Europe clearinghouse to share information

Once the project ended after three years, we were able to guarantee, primarily through European Commission funding, to maintain this clearinghouse database...because definitely there was wide recognition here that we should maintain it - not only among NGOs, but also for example, among the World Health Organisation and mong the European Comission...

Martine de Schutter
Linking and learning:

Our members recognised early on that there was a lot of good information out there, but that there was no central place to access it. As a result, NGOs and CBOs across the region were constantly expending time, energy and resources to reinvent what already existed, but was not accessible to them. In response, we developed The Clearinghouse on HIV and AIDS. With the Clearinghouse, our aim was to create acentral database on HIV and AIDS that could be continually updated and where stakeholders from across Europe and Central Asia could share important documents and good-practice information.

Currently the Clearinghouse consists of more than 1200 key documents and good practice materials, including leaflets, videos, policy papers and toolkits, covering all languages within the EU and its neighbouring countries. You can well imagine the sum of knowledge readily available for download in the Clearinghouse!

The Clearinghouse is successfully derived from one of our first initiatives, “European Partners in Action on AIDS” (EPAA). Running from 2006 until 2009, it was designed to strengthen knowledge, capacity and exchange among HIV/AIDS-related NGOs and CBOs in the region.

Martine de Schutter, AIDS Action Europe, on the benefits of good practice seminars

On the one hand, this enabled us to really meet up with many of our members, but also to really share widely across the region what we'd learned.

Martine de Schutter

Another major component of this project was our Good Practice Seminars. In order to build capacity among NGOs in the region, we conducted a series of seminars on seven themes that were identified by our members through our needs assessment activities. The themes covered both skill-building and knowledge-building activities, and included: Working with the Media; Monitoring and Evaluation; Gay Men’s Health; Legislation and Judicial Systems in Relation to HIV/AIDS; HIV Voluntary Counselling and Testing; Resource Mobilisation; and, Public Policy Dialogue.

These seminars helped to form the basis for a new project.  ROST – Responding to HIV through Organisational Support and Technical Cooperation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia– was a three-year initiative (2010-2012) focused on members in the Russian-speaking part of our region that was implemented by AIDS Foundation East-West, our partner organisation in Russia.

Designed to facilitate the growth and development of local NGOs and CBOs, ROST – meaning “growth” in Russian– included a series of capacity-building seminars (face-to-face as well as web-based) on topics such as advocacy and resource mobilisation.  In my opinion, one of the most valuable components of ROST is that each seminar was followed by a small grants programme, enabling the participating NGOs to put into practice the skills that they learned at the seminars.

What’s been both encouraging and interesting to see is that several organisations submitted small grants proposals together.  In this way, ROST has not only helped individual NGOs grow and develop skills, but it has also helped strengthen the relationships between organisations.

Due to lack of sufficient finances, I sadly have to say that no activities have been conducted in the final year of the ROST project.

Key Facts

Projects: A range of initiatives designed to first build the network, and then to provide tools and resources that enable our members to respond to the most pressing needs within their communities and across the region, and to exchange information, ideas and lessons learned

Run by: AIDS Action Europe

Region: Europe and Central Asia

Population: All people living with HIV and at-risk populations, with a focus on gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), people who inject drugs and migrants

Challenges: Stigma and discrimination; the economic crisis; lack of access to treatment, care, information and harm-reduction programmes

Activities: Needs assessments; development of an online database on HIV/AIDS good practice materials; seminars; skills training sessions; small grants programmes, advocacy work