With the ATLAS project in West Africa, a major innovation as close as possible to the field to achieve the global HIV testing target by 2020.
Knowing your HIV status remains an essential step in accessing treatment and ending the epidemic
On Tuesday 29 January in Dakar, Solthis in partnership with Unitaid, the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and in collaboration with the Ministries of Health of Senegal, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire officially launched the ATLAS project « HIV SelfTest, Free to Access its Status » to reduce HIV-related morbidity and mortality in West Africa.
500,000 HIV self-tests to be distributed to change the face of testing among most-at-risk populations.
Improving access to HIV testing through self-testing is an innovative approach to reaching key populations that are not being reached today but are most at risk and where the epidemic remains concentrated.
This strategy complements existing screening strategies to reach as many people as possible and accelerate the achievement of UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 goals, particularly the first one: « By 2020, 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status » in a region where only half (48%) of people living with HIV know their status and therefore cannot access treatment.
« The #ProjetATLAS puts the diversification of self-test distribution channels at the heart of its project to reach key populations that are not being reached today. » President of Renapoc Mali #launch at #Dakar Cc @UNITAID @ird_fr @NGOSolthis
#P#ProjetATLAS #lancement #unitaid «The #HIV self-test is a technological and societal innovation. It is a tool for accessing treatment and prevention » @dunetonphilipp1
A more comprehensive investment strategy to promote HIV testing in Africa
« ATLAS is part of a more comprehensive investment strategy to promote HIV self-testing in Africa, including West and Central Africa, as a way to achieve high rates of HIV testing, and thus help reverse the epidemic. », said Lelio Marmora, Executive Director of Unitaid.
The 3.5-year ATLAS project will not only distribute 500,000 HIV self-test kits in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal, but will also lay the foundations for the large-scale deployment of this testing strategy by governments and other partners, with the support of institutional, community and research partners.
Dakar, 3 December 2018 – On the occasion of the second edition of the Journées Scientifiques Sida au Sénégal (JSSS), which is being held from 3 to 5 December at the Centre International de Conférences Abdou Diouf (CICAD), the ATLAS project (Autotest VIH, Libre d’accéder A la connaissance de son Statut), opens up perspectives on self-screening as part of the symposium « HIV self-testing, an innovative tool to make available a screening offer tailored to vulnerable populations ».
Know your status
In a context where, in Senegal, more than a quarter of people living with HIV do not know their HIV status, it is essential to diversify the testing offer to achieve UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 targets (90% of HIV-positive people know their status, 90% of people who test positive for HIV have access to treatment, 90% of people on treatment have an undetectable viral load by 2020). As highlighted in the latest UNAIDS report, Knowledge is power, published on 22 November, the West and Central Africa region is lagging behind in screening, preventing rapid entry into care.
Implemented in Senegal by the consortium Therapeutic Solidarity and Health Initiatives (Solthis) – Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), in partnership with the Senegalese Ministry of Health and Social Action, the Conseil National de Lutte contre le Sida, the Division de lutte contre le Sida et les Infections sexuellement transmissibles, CEPIAD, CTA, ENDA Santé and SSD, the ATLAS Project is supported and financed by Unitaid for a period of 3.5 years and a budget of about 15 million dollars. It was developed to diversify the screening offer with an innovative solution for vulnerable populations that complements existing screening services.
The ATLAS project, at the crossroads of technological and societal innovation
By targeting vulnerable at-risk populations who do not identify themselves as such and by using secondary distribution channels, ATLAS provides a way for people who have never tested, often for reasons of stigma and confidentiality, to do so. The self-test (an oral device for detecting HIV antibodies that consists of passing a spatula on the gums and then immersing it in a reagent) makes it possible to demedicalize the act and strengthens everyone’s ability to be an actor in their health.
The project is also innovating by distributing the self-test to a larger average, which until now had only been tested in pilot programs. The ambition of the ATLAS Project is to prepare the transition to the sub-regional level as of now by supporting the implementation of the necessary legislative frameworks.
Finally, the ATLAS project is a research program involving the IRD, the Bouisson Bertrand Institute, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Imperial College of London, among others. Five studies will be conducted from the end of 2018 to demonstrate the contribution of self-testing as a complementary screening strategy.
The ATLAS project is being implemented in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal.
Press contact : Juliette Bastin +221 78 183 64 07 firstname.lastname@example.org