GAT, WHO, DGS, pharmaceutical companies and civil society at symposium on immunization for people living with HIV

13 Março 2024

The Symposium 'Advancing Immunization for People Living with HIV' occurred on February 22. Its aim was to discuss strategies for achieving the 2030 health goals in Portugal regarding vaccination for people living with HIV.

The Treatment Activists Group (GAT) organized the symposium, which brought together the World Health Organization (WHO), the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), six pharmaceutical companies that supply vaccines, and civil society organizations. Around 50 people from 15 different organizations attended the initiative at Infarmed's headquarters.

The symposium aimed to advocate for accessible, integrated, and safe vaccination responses, involving socio-political and commercial stakeholders in the process. It was held due to the challenges people with HIV face in accessing the recommended vaccination.

The symposium's organizers wrote a concept note stating that they initiated a discussion between institutions representing people living with HIV and health institutions in the area of vaccination. The aim was to develop a joint and participatory health policy that aligns with the immunization agenda, global health goals, vaccine recommendations for people living with HIV, the Portuguese universal prescription strategy, and the national health plan until 2030.

During the symposium, vaccination recommendations for individuals living with HIV were presented by the WHO, DGS, the European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS), and Infarmed. The discussion included perspectives from both medical professionals, such as Dr. Fábio Cota Medeiros from the Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Norte, and individuals living with HIV. The information was presented in a logical order and in accessible language to ensure that it can be understood by a broad audience.

Each presentation was clear and concise, providing valuable information on the vaccines. The symposium began with presentations from Bavarian Nordic, GSK, MSD, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Viatris on their vaccines for influenza, pneumococcal disease, COVID-19, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A and B viruses, HPV, herpes zoster, and mpox.

The discussion group ended the initiative with a private meeting attended by Fábio Cota Medeiros (doctor), Luís Mendão (Director of Health Policies at GAT), Amílcar Soares (National Civil Society Forum on HIV and AIDS), Teresa Fernandes (DGS), Umbelina Caixas (EACS), and Viatcheslav Grankov (WHO Europe).

The initiative will run until European Immunization Week, which takes place from April 23 to 29. During this week, a call for joint action is expected to be launched after reviewing the outcome document of the discussion group. The symposium is part of a series of GAT initiatives, including the 'Vaccines, how many?' campaign, aimed at promoting vaccination and improving health policies for people living with HIV.