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Bridging the Treatment Gap in Africa: Global Coalition Works to Reduce Cost of HIV Testing in Infants

Diagnostics Access Initiative partners announce significantly lower testing costs to improve access to life-saving HIV testing

Life-saving treatment for HIV-exposed infants is more accessible now than ever before thanks to a new commitment by Roche Diagnostics to lower the cost of its HIV early infant testing technologies. Despite the World Health Organization’s recommendation that all HIV-exposed infants receive early diagnostic screening within the first six weeks after birth, recent UNAIDS data show that only 44% receive the appropriate screening [1]. Improving access to such screening by reducing the cost of tests enables more tests to be purchased and for funds to be focused on more efficient test targeting and deployment. This is critical to closing these wide testing gaps and reducing paediatric AIDS-mortality.

“Local communities face many challenges in improving access to new, innovative diagnostic technologies,” says Dr. Trevor Peter, Chair of the ASLM Board of Directors. “Together with gaps in workforce capacity, physical infrastructure, and lengthy test turn-around times, test price can often be a barrier to access in resource-limited settings. The reduced cost of early infant diagnosis tests is an important step towards improving paediatric health outcomes in Africa and achieving the 90-90-90 HIV treatment targets set out by UNAIDS.”

90-90-90The UNAIDS 90-90-90 HIV treatment targets aim to ensure by 2020 that 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people diagnosed with HIV receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90% of people receiving ART achieve viral suppression [2]. The UNAIDS-led Diagnostics Access Initiative aims to leverage appropriate, accessible, affordable, and optimally-used diagnostic technologies and strategies to ensure the achievement of bold new HIV treatment targets.

The Diagnostics Access Initiative calls to action partners and private industry to make HIV-related testing more affordable and accessible to achieve these 90-90-90 targets. In 2014, Roche Diagnostics lowered the global price of its HIV viral load testing platform by 40%. Following this positive step, last month in Vancouver (IAS 2015), global partners in the Diagnostics Access Initiative joined with Roche Diagnostics to announce a 35% reduction in the price for HIV early infant diagnostic technologies.

By reducing the new access price to $9.40 per test for HIV screening in early infants, Roche and Diagnostic Access Initiative partners solidified new momentum in the fight to eliminate AIDS. Partners involved in the negotiation of this new HIV infant testing price reduction included UNAIDS, the Global Fund, PEPFAR, UNITAID, and CHAI.

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Media contact: Corey White, Senior Communications Officer (Email)

Partners of the UNAIDS-led Diagnostics Access Initiative (DAI) include: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), the World Health Organization (WHO), UNITAID, UNICEF, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM).

[1] Global AIDS Response Progress Reporting (WHO/UNICEF/UNAIDS); number of pregnant women living with HIV as a proxy for HIV-exposed infants: UNAIDS 2013 estimates.

[2] UNAIDS Report: 90-90-90 – An ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic UNAIDS. Accessible at: http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/documents/2014/90-90-90