are proud to host one of the largest Red Cross networks in
Europe and Central Asia - and, with over 70 participants this
is the largest ERNA meeting so far. Over 30 countries are
represented here - showing, in many ways, both the scope and
the truly international aspect of HIV/AIDS epidemic. Some
very high level people have also chosen to come - this perhaps
underlines the importance that this issue has in many countries.
hope that you will feel at home here in Krakow, one of our most
I am a doctor, I am not a specialist on HIV/AIDS. But even I
am aware of the current situation with the epidemic. And so
I can see that this growth in size in ERNA, is necessary to
deal with the crisis before us: there has been a steady rise
in HIV infections in Western Europe, and currently Central-Eastern
Europe and Central Asia are the region of the fastest growing
HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world.
issue of AIDS is not new for the Polish RC. In the early 1990's
the Polish RC was one of the first organisations to address
the problem in Poland. We have worked hard in the areas of prevention
and stigma. In 2002, the PRC joined the IFRC 'The Truth About
AIDS' campaign and has regularly organised candlelight marches
and ran information campaigns. We prepared a special information
CD on the topic and most recently, with the help of the IFRC,
have put together a peer education program for youth about HIV/AIDS
called 'Just Between You and Me.'
bears mention that most of this work has been by youth for youth
- we have long since realised the importance of reaching and
involving the younger generation.
is true now more than ever before: In this region the situation
is very clear - over 80% of new infections are among youth below
30 years of age. Now more than ever AIDS is a youth issue. ERNA
has long advocated the presence of youth delegates - and we
have really tried to stress the importance of youth. We are
very happy that there is so many young participants this year.
and discrimination, however, is not the only problem. It is
clear that in our region the highest number of infections is
due to drag use. There must be programs for these people. It
is also crucial that more co-operation exist in the area of
HIV/AIDS work - not only among National Societies but also among
the relevant organisations in each country as well as, and perhaps
most importantly, between those working with HIV/AIDS persons
and those actually living with the infection. We hope that is
one of the main themes of this meeting - to build lasting and
functioning partnERNAships - co-operation between our National
Societies and within actual countries with local groups so that
we can work together to overcome the challenge of HIV/AIDS.
after your days here, We hope that you will go home with real
PartnERNAships. All the best to you.
Polish Red Cross