What are the needs of civil society organisations in the response to the HIV epidemic and what role should AAE take in order to support its members in terms of advocacy and communication. These were the questions discussed during the first AAE Member Meeting that took place on November 5, at the AIDS Action Europe offices in Berlin. The bilingual meeting - English and Russian simultaneours translation was provided - was attended by 33 participants from 16 countries from the WHO European Region.

This meeting proved to be an important instrument in the development of AAE’s strategic directions for 2018-2021. AAE received valuable input from its members and partners regarding their needs in advocacy, capacity building and technical support. Monitoring policy implementation, "monitoring the monitors" (including those of our own organisations) and watching the quality behind data were topics named in a working group that addressed the role of AAE as Civil Society watch dog. And last but not least Communication: The working group suggested to improve the network as a community of practice. With the Clearinghouse AAE provides a database that still has room for improved, community driven linking and learning.

The meeting also aimed to look at the needs of organisations in EECA countries. This region faces extraordinary challenges and particular concerns regarding the 90-90-90 goals were shared. Access to ART remains very high on the agenda. Also, good practice in western countries is not necessarily good practice in EECA countries. Often more than only adaption is needed to make an instrument work.

There is a lot to do in the upcoming four years and it became clear that this is not a one way road. AAE can only be successful if the organisations work together, share information and good practice, and join efforts. As Deirdre Seery from the Sexual Health Centre in Cork, Ireland said in her presentation: We are all AIDS Action Europe. 

Report of the meeting you can find here.