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AHF’s rapid HIV testing program in the Netherlands

AHF runs a community-based HIV testing centre in the heart of Amsterdam to offer free, anonymous, rapid HIV testing and counseling services in a non-medical, low threshold and non-judgmental environment through AHF’s rapid testing model. The aim is to reach those who are least likely to access traditional testing programs.

As part of AHF’s innovative alternative-site testing initiative, the team in the Netherlands also tests through a mobile testing van and a pop-up Checkpoint network in key affected communities. AHF in the Netherlands currently operates four pop-up checkpoints: AHF pop-up Checkpoint Rotterdam (migrant/msm), AHF pop-up Checkpoint NZ Sauna (msm), AHF pop-up Checkpoint Club Church (msm) and AHF pop-up Secret Garden (LGBTQ+ migrant). All tests are performed by trained HIV lay tester/counsellors with a use of rapid HIV test.

  • Low threshold – free, quick, easy
  • Non-medical – lay HIV tester/counsellors
  • Accessible – extended opening hours, discreet location, no appointment needed
  • Rapid results – no waiting times
  • Accurate – 99.5% accurate
  • Strong support and linkage to care – low-threshold collaborations with treatment and confirmation facilities
  • Services are for everybody!

Key Achievements

  • Performing over 4500 tests with a positivity rate of 0.9% (1.4% among MSM) with 80% successful linkage to care in 2019.
  • Distributing over 120.000 condoms through on-site and off-site activities.
  • The completion of a lay tester curriculum and the subsequent hands-on training of 10 lay tester representing different communities allowing the NL program to improve the reach into hard-to-reach communities and improving cost-effectiveness by reducing the cost per test. In addition, it can ‘jump-start’ political commitment and accelerate policy change.
  • The facilitation of a workshop at the Annual National HIV and STI conference in Amsterdam together with RIVM and Aidsfonds advocating for the widespread use of community approaches trying to find the last 5% of people living with HIV who are unaware of their status.
  • Continuing and maintaining valuable (rapid testing) collaborations with governmental organizations like several regional public health departments (GGD’s) and the RIVM but also community-based organizations like COC, Club Church, Doctors of the World, Sauna NZ,
  • The expansion of our Pop-up Checkpoint network throughout the Netherlands in key affected communities.
  • Creating and maintaining a strong volunteer network of 30-40 volunteers.
  • Qualitative research by public health student supervised by RIVM about lay-tester and end-user experience: “Community-based HIV testing: experiences of lay-testers and end-users at the Aids Healthcare Foundation Checkpoint in Amsterdam”
  • Including ambassador to the NL program to increase our reach in specific communities.

Country data

By the end of 2018, 23,300 individuals were estimated to be living with HIV, out of the 17 million total population. An estimated 1,900 were still undiagnosed. In total, 21,360 individuals (92% of the total number estimated to be living with HIV) had been diagnosed, linked to care, and registered. Of the individuals who had been diagnosed, linked to care, and registered, the majority (19,913; 93%), had started antiretroviral treatment, and 19,046 of those (96%) had achieved viral suppression.

The estimated number of newly-acquired HIV infections is declining and reached 320 in 2018 (compared with 440 in 2017). This downward trend over the years confirms that the Netherlands is on track to achieving the UNAIDS’ fast-track target for 2020 of a 75% reduction in annual newly-acquired HIV infections since 2010. However, late presentation to care remains an issue. Despite the observed earlier diagnosis in certain groups, many people still present late for care, i.e., with an already markedly impaired immune system or even AIDS; in 2018, this was the case for 41% of MSM, 66% of other men and 45% of women.

Source: Stichting HIV Monitoring report 2019

To have an overview of the HIV rapid testing program results, find the bellow reports:

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Dr. Oladipupo Shobowale,
Country Program Manager
[email protected]

AHF Checkpoint Amsterdam
Jodenbreestraat 158
1011NS Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+ 3120-620 62 61

People living with HIV: 24,000*

Adults 15-49 prevalence rate: 0.2%*

Adults 15+ living with HIV: 23,000*

Men 15+ living with HIV: 19,000*

Women 15+ living with HIV: 4,300*

Children aged 0 to 14 living with HIV: N/A*

Adult and child deaths due to AIDS: AIDS: <100*

*Source: UNAIDS – Netherlands – 2020