Historical Background

Since 1987 the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has been engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The decisions of the General Assemblies in Rio 1987, Budapest 1991 and Birmingham 1993 have been the guiding policies for the interventions of the Federation in the control and prevention of HIV/AIDS, in caring for the infected and affected persons and families and in the promotion of Human Rights and prevention of discrimination and stigmatization of persons infected with HIV.

At the European Regional Red Cross Red Crescent Conference that took place in 2002 in Berlin, National Societies decided unanimously to focus both on the HIV/AIDS and TB, and strengthen the network to support these activities.

At the 14th International AIDS Conference in Barcelona 2002, Senior IFRC Management staff who participated in the conference reiterated their commitment to further strengthen the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In Europe AIDS is one of the major public health problems. There is a critical need for fostering preventive measures, psychological support and care for persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families and promotion of Human Rights and dignity. The involvement of NSs in the fight against HIV/AIDS must be intensified. Innovative approaches must be promoted- concerted efforts by pooling resources, knowledge, skill, experiences and best practices are required. Collaborative interventions must be promoted. These could be achieved through regional networking strategy.

The work so far realized by the Working Group on HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse of the European Social Welfare Network of NSs of the EU member countries gives inspiration for the initiation and implementation of the aforementioned measures. The establishment of a body that can co-ordinate the sharing of experiences, transfer of best practices and the promotion of collaborative efforts among NSs of the European region was imperative. This organ which can be recognized as a working group could be organized in a Network form and it can operate based on networking strategy. An effort along this line was initiated at the end of 1987 when the North American and some European National Societies formed a Task Force on the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, which was operational up to 1992 and later gradually phased out. Thus, the current effort is directed towards revitalizing it by involving European National Societies. In 1997 the IFRC has created European Network of RC/RC on HIV/AIDS (ERNA).