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In line with the Communication on combating HIV/AIDS in the European Union and neighbouring countries (2009-2013) the overall objective of this project is to carry out and promote comined and targeted prevention complemented by a meaningful surveillance among MSM. In other words, the aim si to develop capacity building and know how through both training on-site coaching under the active supervision and in collaboration with UNAIDS and WHO on:

1) prevention needs assessment and prevention actions;

2) innovative surveillance methodologies for hard to reach populations like MSM (time and location sampling, respondent driven sampling, HIV and STI testing). The project, thanks to the participation of UNAIDS and WHO, will be implemented in both EU and neighbouring countries using the same methodologies (protocols, GARP/ECDC indicators, epidemiological algorithms) and prevention strategies.

Strategic relevance

The project's strategic relevance lies in the fact that it addresses the need for an effective response in priority regions such as the mostly effected EU Member States, the Russian Federation and the most affected neighbouring countries. Targeting MSM as one of the most at risk populations with the active involvement and participation of gay communities in all the phases of the project actions, including developing specific culturally sensitive strategies for communication for the prevention of HIV and promotion of VCT among MSM, is in line with the EU Work Plan 2010 objective on health.

Expected outcomes

Evidence for MSM prevention campaigns and for effective epidemiological surveillance according to local contexts based on:

· formative research that will give:

o a picture of the gay scene in each participating country, through a mapping of gay venues, allowing to improve the heterogeneity of the MSM sample,

o an insight of prevention needs and an overview of existing preventive campaigns and initiatives as well as of the gaps with respect to HIV/STI prevention

· the improved capacity of public health institutions and gay NGOs in using new sampling methods for collecting sero behavioral data among hard to reach MSM in future surveys

· the estimation of HIV STI prevalence and of the undiagnosed infections in the MSM population

· the estimation of HIV incidence in countries where the RDS method is adopted and a serum sample taken, allowing to calculate the avidity index and estimate the proportion of new infections

· a detailed knowledge of the heterogeneity of prevention needs in different contexts

· the improved capacity of laboratories of participating countries to use oral fluid samples for HIV epidemiological surveillance

Increased comparability of data in E.U. and neighbouring countriesthrough the use of common indicators (ECDC and UNGASS)and methodologies.

Implementation of effective public health strategies and policies in areas of high need contributing to the reduction of health inequalities among EU Member States (information on the dynamics of HIV/STI transmission among MSM, particularly lacking in Eastern European and neighbouring countries is highly needed to orientate preventive actions in these countries).

The strengthening of a wide network including international (UNAIDS WHO) European (ECDC) organizations, National public health institutes and Civil Society (gay NGOs), and other EC funded projects in the field of HIV/STI prevention. 

The development of culturally sensitive HIV/STI prevention policies for high risk populations

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Regional Coordination Centre for European Project Management
Verona University Hospital

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