HIV and AIDS

The Western Balkans Programme to Fight HIV and AIDS trains infectious disease specialists, primary health care providers, mental health and social workers; supports capacity building and funds prevention programmes of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and provides HIV in the workplace education. The Phase II (2007-2010) programme covers Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia.
The number of HIV and AIDS cases in the Western Balkans has been increasing steadily since 2000. With support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Partnerships in Healthlaunched the Western Balkans Programme to Fight HIV/AIDS (Phase I programme 2004-2007, Phase II programme 2007-2010).

PROGRAMME DEVELOPMENT GOAL

To contain the spread of HIV in the Western Balkans by enabling environment that strengthens HIV resilience through the engagement of multiple sector partners
To reduce gender inequality, stigma and discrimination and promote greater involvement of people living with HIV or AIDS.

Phase II will continue to build on the foundation developed through the Phase I activities by providing NGO support to vulnerable/high risk populations, and mainstreaming HIV prevention and AIDS care and support. The Phase II programme consists of 3 major components:

Build social capital through participatory social networks at the community level
Scale-up capacity and build sustainability
Strengthen regional collaboration and partnerships

Working with our partners Phase I achievements to date include:

Establishing 10 voluntary counseling and confidential testing centers for marginalised populations in Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo; 3 PWHA support groups in Albania, BiH and Kosovo; and supporting Roma peer support groups in Serbia, Macedonia and Albania
Training over 3,900 Primary Health Care providers in HIV knowledge and skills, in Albania, BiH Montenegro and Macedonia
Several capacity building workshops were held for local NGOs, including the first regional consultation of people living with HIV

Phase II, launched in June 2007, has:

Active advisory committees in each participating country
Developed a new HIV curriculum for mental health and social work professionals, police, and dentists
Trained 2,091 providers (doctors, nurses, and allied health care workers) at the primary health care level, in Albania, BiH, and Kosovo
Completed training needs assessments for mental health and social workers in BiH, Macedonia, Serbia, and Albania
Trained 504 mental health and social workers in BiH and Kosovo
Conducted a regional Behavioral Change Communication Strategy and Methods Development Training for 25 NGOs and government representatives

Phase II also saw the initiation of the first HIV and workplace training initiatives for:

The Albanian Department of Public Administration and the Ministry of Interior who requested training of their employees.
Also at their own request, training was provided to soldiers of the BiH military leaving for peace-keeping missions to the Republic of Congo (a high prevalence region), military health providers, and young recruits

12 Trust Fund grants to 14 NGOs, including 3 consortia, assisted in reaching vulnerable and marginalized populations with HIV prevention education. Highlights of the Trust Fund activities include:

The first ever PMTC education in Albania
HIV and hepatitis testing and prevention education in prison settings in BiH and Kosovo
The initiation of a study of practices of IDU and MSM while travelling in and outside their country, and VCT and prevention educations for MSM and, prisoners and detainees in Kosovo
The first ever capacity development for PLHIV in Montenegro
The facilitation of cross gender and age community dialogue among Roma populations in Serbia

The 5th and Final Western Balkans Regional Conference on HIV and AIDS is planned for March 2010 and will highlight some of the changes that have taken place in the region during this decade.