From April 6 to 9, 2022, the 11th edition of the International Francophone Conference on HIV, Sexual Health, Hepatitis and Emerging Infections was held in Marseille, France.

This conference was an opportunity for the ATLAS project to present its final operational and research results and to discuss transition and scale-up issues with our partners, Dr. Thiam, Executive Secretary of the CNLS in Senegal, Dr. Dembele Keïta, Director General of ARCAD Santé Plus in Mali, and Professor Ehui, Coordinating Director of the PNLS in Côte d’Ivoire, during a symposium.

Autodépistage du VIH en Afrique de l’Ouest : résultats finaux et leçons apprises du projet ATLAS.

Introduction, Dr Luis Pizarro, Chef d’équipe, gestion de programmes, Unitaid

Principales réalisations du projet ATLAS – Clémence Doumenc Aïdara, directrice du projet ATLAS, Solthis

Vidéo : Autodépistage du VIH : ce que nous apprend le projet ATLAS

Synthèse des résultats de recherche – Joseph Larmarange, pour l’équipe ATLAS, coordinateur scientifique du projet ATLAS, IRD

Vidéo : Témoignage de bénéficiaires

Table – ronde (animée par Dr Serge Breysse, directeur général Solthis) : Contribution et perspectives de l’autodépistage en Côte d’Ivoire, au Mali et au Sénégal.  15’

  • Dr Safiatou Thiam (Secrétaire exécutive du CNLS, Sénégal) : Contribution et impact de l’autodépistage sur le dépistage du VIH au Sénégal ?
  • Pr Eboi Ehui  (Directeur coordonnateur du PNLS, Côte d’Ivoire) : Après ATLAS, quelles stratégies complémentaires pour le passage à l’échelle de l’autodépistage du VIH en Côte d’Ivoire ?
  • Dr Bintou Dembélé Keita (Directrice générale ARCAD Santé Plus, Mali) : Comment l’exemple de l’autodépistage alimente la réflexion sur l’autosoin, notamment pour les populations les plus vulnérables ?

Dr Nayé Bah,  Administratrice nationale en charge du VIH, TB et hépatites ; Point focal pour l’accélération de la couverture en traitement ARV pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest et du centre à l’Organisation Mondiale pour la Santé 

Representatives from the ATLAS project were also invited by the Global Fund and Unitaid to participate in their sessions to present community engagement at a Unitaid symposium and the complementarity of Unitaid and Global Fund actions at a booth session.

See the replay of Clémence Doumenc Aïdara intervention, during UNITAID symposium

The ATLAS – Solthis stand was also a place for meetings and discussions, particularly on the subject of self-testing, which aroused the interest of many participants.

The research teams were also honored with four posters, one of which was commented, and one oral communication.

Oral communication from Odette Ky-Zerbo : Utilisation et redistribution de l’autodépistage du VIH parmi les populations clés et leurs réseaux en Afrique de l’Ouest : pratiques et expériences vécues dans le projet ATLAS, Odette KY-ZERBO

ATLAS is at ICASA 2021

ATLAS is at ICASA 2021

The ATLAS project is virtually participating in the 21st International Conference on HIV/AIDS and STIs in Africa.

Clémence Doumenc Aïdara, project director, and Joseph Larmarange, scientific coordinator, will present the operational and research results to date during the symposium “Beyond Key Populations: Secondary Distribution of HIV Self-Testing Kits in West Africa”.

In this symposium to be held on Tuesday, December 7 at 10:36 am GMT, Dr. Camilla Anoma (Espace Confiance, Côte d’Ivoire) and Dr. Youssouf Diallo (Cellule de lutte contre le sida, les IST et les hépatites virales, Ministère de la Santé, Mali), will present their feedback on the operational implementation of the project.
Testimonials from providers and users will also be presented.

The ATLAS project is also present with two posters:

  • Reaching key and peripheral populations: a phone-based survey of HIV self-test users in West Africa, par Arsène Kra Kouassi (CEPED / IRD) et al. and
  • Modelling the population-level impact of a national HIV self-testing strategy among key populations in Côte d’Ivoire, par Romain Silhol (Imperial College of London) et al.
Third Consortium meeting in Saly

Third Consortium meeting in Saly

On October 12-14, the ATLAS project held its third and final Consortium meeting.

On this occasion, all of the project’s operational, institutional, and research partners, as well as representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), and representatives of recipients of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis, were gathered in Saly, Senegal.

On the agenda were an update on the overall progress of the project, a presentation of research findings, and collaborative work around transition and scale-up action plans.

After a long period of 18 months during which the teams had not been able to exchange face-to-face because of the Covid-19 pandemic, all the project actors were satisfied to be able to share their experiences again and to discuss together the lessons learned and results.

The first day was an opportunity to share information on the challenges / progress of HIV self-testing (ADVIH) at the international level and more specifically in West and Central Africa, data presented by Anne Bekelynck, from WHO. As a result, between 2017 and 2021, nearly four times as many countries have implemented HIV-DNA programs, with 136 countries now having at least one strategy in development (including 20% of West and Central African countries), compared to 112 when ATLAS was launched. According to the WHO, ADVIH should now be offered as an approach to HIV testing services, not as a complementary strategy.  

Clémence Doumenc Aïdara, ATLAS Project Director, and the country project managers then presented the status of the implementation of the activities, including more than 300,000 kits distributed, almost half of which were in Côte d’Ivoire, and two-thirds of which were targeted at female sex workers. The project’s operational lessons also tell us that nearly half of the kits were given to women between the ages of 25 and 49, that more than 1,400 people have been trained in dispensing, and that 170 sites are now operational.  

The second day was devoted to research. Since the beginning of the project, studies have been carried out in five workpackages to document the social, epidemiological, economic and political impact of the introduction of ADVIH in the three countries of action of the ATLAS project. After two years of study, initial results are available, demonstrating that self-testing is a feasible, sustainable, and impactful HIV testing strategy, reaching people who were not reached by conventional testing strategies. These research findings, which were previously discussed on October 7-8 at the research meeting, also held in Senegal, are generating high expectations among partners for reliable data to inform the next steps in national self-testing strategies.  

Scaling up and transition were on the agenda of the third day, and were the subject of collaborative work, allowing the elaboration of the first versions of transition plans in each country, in order to facilitate the operationalization of this transition, and thus identifying the obstacles and opportunities to the implementation of a self-testing strategy at the national scale. The ATLAS project’s support for national scale-up in the final 9 months of the project was also discussed to identify our partners’ expectations.  

IAS 2021

IAS 2021

The ATLAS project is attending the 11th edition of the International AIDS Society conference (July 18th-21st).


HIV self-testing, what next? Sunday, July 18, 2021, at 17:00 GMT (Channel 4)

With Joseph Larmarange (Ceped / IRD, scientific coordinator of ATLAS project): Key populations and beyond: using HIV self-testing to further reach vulnerable groups in West Africa.
And the intervention of Pr Eboi Ehui (Coordinating Director of the National AIDS Program in Côte d’Ivoire), as a participant in the roundtable: Investing in self-testing in West Africa.

Costs and scale-up costs of integrating HIV self-testing into civil society organisation-led programmes for key populations
in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Mali
. Marc D’Elbée (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), et al.
Introducing HIV self-testing among key populations in West Africa: a baseline qualitative analysis of key stakeholders’ attitudes and perceptions in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Senegal. Odette Ky-Zerbo (TransVIHMI, IRD, Université de Montpellier, Inserm), et al.
HIV self-testing among key populations amid COVID-19 and political conflict in Mali. Salif Diarra (FHI 360 Mali), Odé Kanku (Solthis Mali), et al.

Dissemination meeting

Dissemination meeting

Since the beginning of the project, the research team, coordinated by Joseph Larmarange (CEPED-IRD), has been working on five work packages (qualitative survey on key populations, anthropological survey on the screening of partners of PLwHIV, coupon survey, economic component, modeling component). With some preliminary data from this research now available, the ATLAS project teams organized dissemination meetings in April and May as part of the knowledge transfer activities.

These workshops brought together the project’s national partners, as well as actors involved in screening and more broadly in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and made it possible to present the operational advances, involving the ATLAS project partners who also presented their own feedback. Preliminary research results were also made available to all stakeholders in order to provide them with useful elements for the implementation of self-testing strategies.
Marc d’Elbée, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, presented the economics aspects of the project, including an expected reduction in costs from $17 to $10 per kit provided at scale.
Odette Ky-Zerbo, from the TransVIHMI/IRD IMU, presented data from the key population survey conducted at the beginning of the project. They expressed a rather favorable attitude, but with some doubts due to lack of knowledge. Additional components of this survey are being conducted to assess changes in the perception of HIV self-testing following its deployment.
Finally, Sokhna Boye, from CEPED / IRD, presented the results of the survey she conducted on the self-testing of partners of PLwHIV, which revealed the difficulty of proposing HIV self-testing to one’s partner when the status has not been shared, and the need to work on the patient’s circuit in order to avoid longer consultations by providing the self-testing kit.
The discussions that followed these presentations allowed the ATLAS project teams to specify the modalities of its knowledge transfer strategy, in order to ensure that the data disseminated will be adapted to the needs and recipients, and their appropriation facilitated. Deliberative workshops will be held between late 2021 and early 2022 to continue knowledge transfer, and further presentations by ATLAS investigators will take place at the International AIDS Society conference (virtual conference, July 18-21).

Find the presentations of the preliminary research data (in French) :

Economic component, Marc D’Elbée

Key populations component, Odette Ky-Zerbo

Index Case Component, Sokhna Boye

Integrated approach and demand creation, the ATLAS project capitalizes on its experience

Integrated approach and demand creation, the ATLAS project capitalizes on its experience

Now in its final stage, the ATLAS project is continuing its capitalization process. The objective is to document the good practices but also the challenges of the implementation of the project in order to promote and facilitate the development of new HIV self-testing initiatives (HIVSTD).

In a context of increasing integration of HIV testing into testing strategies in West and Central Africa, particularly in the context of the implementation of the 2021-2023 Global Fund grants, the availability of contextualized knowledge on this innovation is essential to ensure its successful implementation.

As the main experience in deploying ADVIH in West Africa, the ATLAS project has therefore decided to share its experiences, particularly in terms of cultural and epidemiological contexts, but also in terms of the specificities of ATLAS in terms of delivery channels and target populations.

The first two capitalization sheets are devoted to the integration of ADVIH into national systems on the one hand, and the creation of user demand on the other.

The first documents the approach used by ATLAS to ensure the integration of HIV testing and to raise awareness among HIV stakeholders of the challenges associated with integrating HIV testing as a complementary testing strategy. The second contributes to improving practices in terms of promoting and raising awareness about HIV testing and identifies the challenges and good practices for creating a sustainable demand for self-testing among the hardest-to-reach populations.

These capitalization sheets are available in free access on our website.

Download the capitalization sheet on the integrated approach (in french).
Download the capitalization sheet on demand creation (in french).