In June 2001, Heads of State and Representatives of Governments met at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS and issued the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. The declaration recognizes that with sufficient will and resources, communities and countries could reverse the devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic. Norway has submitted its 2008-2009 reporting for the follow-up of the UNGASS declaration.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health, in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), has been responsible for the 2008-2009 reporting from Norway. Relevant stakeholders and NGOs have been involved both in relation to data collection and drafting of the report.
Since 2002, the Norwegian national HIV strategies comprise the relevant commitments made in the UNGASS declaration. The main achievement in the period 2008-2009 is the launch of an intersectoral national HIV strategy (2009-2014) involving six different ministries (Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, Ministry of Children and Equality, Ministry of Health and Care Services, Ministry of Justice and the Police, Ministry of Education and Ministry of the Environment and International Development). The strategy defines a number of specific targets and strategic moves which need to be addressed and implemented in order to halt the growing epidemic among vulnerable groups in Norway and prevent the epidemic from reaching the general population.
However, even though progress can be seen, the 2008-2009 UNGASS reporting shows that the country is still facing challenges related to increasing incidence of HIV among MSM and immigrants despite considerable efforts invested in HIV prevention the past years. In addition, PLWHA are still facing a high level of stigma and discrimination in the Norwegian society and the level of knowledge and attitudes towards PLWHA in the general population and especially among youth and adolescents, needs to be improved.
The main challenges identified in the reporting period include lack of collaboration between the primary and specialist health care services, lack of knowledge on HIV in the public sector, inadequate sexuality education in schools, lack of rights to health for paperless irregular immigrants and lack of financial predictability for civil society working on HIV.
The findings from the UNGASS reporting will be used in the continious work on improving HIV preventive efforts in Norway. In addtion, it will be an important contribution to the development of an improved evaluation and monitoring system for HIV prevention, treatment and care in Norway.