Today, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the European Commission to come up with a plan to tackle the rise of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis epidemics in Europe. Speaking after the vote Nessa Childers said: “Today, I voted in favour of pushing the European Commission to come up with a plan to tackle the rise of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis epidemics in Europe. These have been on the rise and those people who are affected by the epidemics are most often the most vulnerable in our society. Not to mention the severe consequences such as stigma and discrimination people face in Europe. There are very big concerns about the taboos associated with these infectious diseases, there is a great lack of educational programmes around these issues which has a direct link to the increasing number of young people catching these infections. Not to stress the massive burden on overstretched health care systems in Europe. That is why we are urging the Commission to come up with a comprehensive EU wide strategy.”
For over a year, my political group (S&D) has been pushing the Parliament to act on these significant and seriously underestimated health threats. As the EU Action Plan on HIV/AIDS expired at the end of 2016, a new comprehensive EU strategy on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis, including prevention and giving patients access to better treatments, urgently needs to be put in place.
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis are the three major cross-border threats to public health in the European region. In 2015, almost 30.000 new HIV infections were reported. Around 400 people die every day from viral hepatitis and related causes. Tuberculosis is re-emerging as one of the gravest threats to global health but remains seriously underestimated.