The mission of AIDS Action Europe’s European HIV Legal Forum (EHLF) is to develop effective means of improving access to HIV prevention, counselling and testing, treatment, care and support for all those who have limited access to HIV services due to legal obstacles, through the united efforts of legal and policy experts with the aim of bringing into effect a rights-based approach to health as adopted by the European Commission.
In 2012, following growing interest within the AAE Steering Committee and the broader AAE network for mutual support and joint action on legal issues related to HIV, AAE developed the first steps towards the EHLF, which began with a pilot project initiated by five AAE member organisations (the ‘EHLF partners’) in Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The pilot focused on the legal situation affecting access to healthcare of migrants in an irregular situation (also known as ‘undocumented migrants’) who are living with HIV since it was felt by all five EHLF partners that there was an urgent need to act on this issue. A survey was devised by the EHLF partners and rolled out in the partners’ countries. The results provided valuable insights into differences in health systems in the five countries and its effects on access to treatment and services for irregular migrants. By documenting the legal situation, providing a comparative analysis of each country’s laws and how they were applied, the survey report identified good practice and innovative solutions consistent with international human rights, acting as a catalyst for change where practice remains poor.
In 2014 the EHLF network was enlarged by adding 5 additional countries and replacing one member that was not responding to our inquiries. (France, Germany, Greece, Poland, Spain and Serbia). During the project phase 2014-2015 the survey was developed and redone in all 10 countries and an analysis and comparison of the legal situation and a collection of European and international legislation and case law was produced. EHLF members collected good practice materials in the field of treatment and right literacy for migrants and based on the results of the legal survey an advocacy tool was prepared that is used at different event and conferences where the work of EHLF is presented. Cooperation with organizations and networks working in the field were established or strengthened both at the national and European level.
In the latest project phase of 2016-2017, the EHLF was extended to 16 countries and delivered an updated legal report and advocacy tool. One of the key findings of this project phase was that in some countries, same obstacles to accessing preventions, testing, treatment and care servics apply to citizens or residents who do not have documents or a valid health insurance as to migrants in irregular situations.
During the project closing meeting of the project, the EHLF members agreed on working on 2 additional topics – besides monitoring national and European legislations on migrants both in regular and irregular situations. The selected topics are HIV criminalization and access to HIV, viral hepatitis and TB services for people in prisons and other closed settings. These topics will be integrated to the operating grant (SGA 2018) from the Health Programme of the European Union.
Access to Health Care Services for Migrants with Irregular Status