AHF Says WHO’s New HIV Testing Guidelines, ‘Game Changing”

In Global, News by AHF

AHF Welcomes the World Health Organization’s updated and streamlined HIV testing services guidelines, says testing and linkage to treatment is way to break chain of infection and
control epidemic.

WASHINGTON (July 20, 2015) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which provides HIV/AIDS medical care and treatment to more than 438,000 people in 36 countries, cheered news from the World Health Organization (WHO), which released updated HIV testing guidelines under the title, “Consolidated Guidelines on HIV Testing Services—5Cs-Consent, Confidentiality, Counseling, Correct Results and Connection.”

“Today the WHO issued new HIV testing guidelines that are truly game changing. AHF has been doing streamlined rapid testing around the world now for more than eight years and will have hit the ten million cumulative testing mark by the end of this year. We have vast hands on experience with implementing this model and celebrate the embracing of it officially,” said Terri Ford, chief of global policy & advocacy for AHF. “It is the only way to get to 20 million on treatment by the year 2020 (‘20×20’), identifying the nearly 50% of HIV positive people around the world that do not know their status and ultimately reach the 90-90-90 targets. Cheers to the WHO team who worked very hard to bring this to reality. It will save lives. Let’s all get behind it, utilize faster testing technologies and make it happen”.

“Thanks to improved testing technology and science, an HIV test—and result—can be given in as little as one minute today. It is time that regulations and guidelines kept pace with the technology and we applaud the WHO for the new testing guidelines it has offered,” said Dr. Penninah Iutung Amor, Africa Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Previous recommendations for pre-HIV test counseling got transformed, and in many countries, became a legal requirement—not just for all the ones offering HIV testing services—but also as a requirement imposed upon the people who wanted to know their HIV status. Those requirements served as a major barrier to testing that consumed time and resources and actually drove down testing numbers. Many of these barriers should be lifted now under WHO’s new testing guidelines.”

“In different forums, at different levels of governments and international agencies, we insisted and debated, sometimes against the current, for the removal of pre-test counseling as a requirement to freely and voluntarily access a rapid HIV test,” said Dr. Jorge Saavedra, AHF’s Global Public Health Ambassador and former Director of the National HIV Program of Mexico. In fact, he notes, the new UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets, will not be achieved if proper funding is not there and if a number of barriers at the country level are not removed. “For example, the first 90 which means that 90% of people with HIV know their status, it would be impossible to achieve with the old VCT testing model.”

“Last week, UNAIDS reported that there are now 15 million people with HIV/AIDS on treatment worldwide—a truly remarkable accomplishment,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “In a statement on that news, AHF said, ‘In order to achieve global AIDS control and halt the spread of the virus we need a radical overhaul of how we approach HIV testing, linkage and treatment access around the world.’ With the World Health Organization’s announcement of its new testing guidelines, that radical overhaul appears to be under way, and we congratulate and thank WHO for their actions on this front.”

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