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Mental Health and HIV

The Section for Mental Health and HIV within IAN has been operating since 2003. The mission of the section from the beginning is that fighting stigma and discrimination is the most effective way of responding to the HIV epidemic, as well as one of the key points in the reform of the mental health care system.

The activities of the section through the years encompass different fields of response to HIV:

  • Prevention and care – through developmental programs of voluntary confidential counselling and HIV testing, and support programs for counselors
  • Care and support for people living with HIV – through individual and group psychological and psychiatric support and supporting people with HIV to empower and establish their associations
  • Activities directed towards fighting stigma and discrimination, through great quantity of interactive training for professionals and other HIV stakeholders, through qualitative research, and number of initiatives directed to facilitate the dialog between different interested parties in the field of HIV
  • Supporting professional helpers through education, training and supervision support


In the field of mental health, we are focused on the following:

  • Encouraging the reform of the mental health system – through the involvement of our experts in the creation of the National Strategy for Mental Health and the Draft Law on the Protection of Persons with Mental Disorders in 2007 and continuous advocacy for their implementation, as well as for changes and monitoring of the implementation of existing laws related to this area
  • Promotion of mental health and mental health care in the community – through numerous education and study visits for professionals and users and cooperation with the IMHCN International Mental Health Collaborative Network
  • Activities directed towards fighting stigma and discrimination – through empowerment of the user movement in Serbia, trainings and public events
  • Support for people with mental health problems – through the development and provision of community services for people with mental health problems and their family members


Since the establishment of the Mental Health and HIV Section, it has been working to help users and user organizations. IAN has, among other things, helped establishment of a number of new associations of people living with HIV and supported the work of eight associations of people living with HIV through various capacity building trainings and technical assistance trainings. IAN has founded the Association of Psychiatric Users and Members of Their Families Duša, which is the first user association that gathers people with mental health problems. IAN believes that involving people with a problem in various prevention, support and treatment activities and their empowerment is crucial for the effective fight against stigma and discrimination and improvement of the situation of people living with HIV, as well as people with mental health problems. Among other things, users participate in IAN trainings in mixed groups of participants and work as lecturers-coaches, participate in research and publications. In addition, a number of joint initiatives have been undertaken to improve the status of people living with HIV / people with mental health problems, through various projects implemented by IAN and/or associations themselves that have, over time, enhanced their capacity to carry out sustainable projects.