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Expert opinion on new HIV self-testing and assisted partner notification recommendations

Author:Gary Yi   Time:2016-12-14 9:53:34

WHO asked a range of experts their opinions and significance of the new HIV self-testing and assisted partner notification recommendations.


Chewe Luo 
Associate Director, Programme Division, UNICEF, USA

The world will not end the HIV epidemic if people, including adolescents, do not know their HIV status. With HIV self-testing, we have an opportunity to massively expand HIV testing to populations that are left out by our current approaches.


Deborah Birx - Ambassador at Large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator

Deborah Birx 
Ambassador at Large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator

PEPFAR welcomes the release of the WHO guidelines on HIV self-testing (HIVST) and looks forward to supporting its introduction in the context of effective HIV testing strategies. This innovative modality will increase our ability to test populations currently underserved including adolescent girls and young women, adolescent boys and young men, partners of women tested in our antenatal clinics, and our key populations. In addition, HIVST will enhance our ability to improve implementation of partner and family testing of PLHIV. Assisted HIV partner notification will ensure that the partners who are often at highest risk also benefit from opportunities to learn their HIV status and begin ART if they are found to be HIV positive.


Emilio Emini - Director, HIV Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA

Emilio Emini 
Director, HIV Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA

HIV self-testing and assisted partner notification represent approaches that can substantially help individuals living with HIV learn their status. If implemented effectively and efficiently, these strategies can greatly increase the numbers of people living with HIV receiving lifesaving treatment and care.


Françoise Barre-Sinoussi - Nobel Laureate, Institut Pasteur

Françoise Barre-Sinoussi 
Nobel Laureate, Institut Pasteur, France

HIV self-testing is a fantastic additional tool to give people the chance to be diagnosed and treated early and to reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to others. Therefore, these recommendations on HIV self-testing and assisted HIV partner notification are very much welcome as a critical component in achieving the 90-90-90 objectives.


Getrude Ncube - National HIV Prevention Coordinator, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Zimbabwe

Getrude Ncube 
National HIV Prevention Coordinator, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Zimbabwe

Reaching the 1st 90 is our biggest challenge. Embracing different HIV testing services including HIV self-testing is a must. In Zimbabwe self-testing has been widely accepted and feasible in the initial roll out using community-based distributors. We now need to develop innovative strategies to maximize the use of self-testing in order to end AIDS by 2030.


Pr Jean-François Delfraissy - Director of the National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS) and Director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, France

Pr Jean-François Delfraissy 
Director of the National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS) and Director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, France

I fully support and welcome the announcement of WHO, emphasizing the impact of research on public health politics. It reinforces the scientific programmes I have set up at the ANRS in order to improve HIV testing, and more specifically, self-testing and partner notification.


Lelio Marmora - Executive Director, UNITAID

Lelio Marmora 
Executive Director, UNITAID

UNITAID welcomes WHO's guidelines that encourage the use of HIV self-testing in addition to existing services to reach 14 million undiagnosed people.


Linda-Gail Bekker - Deputy Director, The Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa and President, International AIDS Society

Linda-Gail Bekker 
Deputy Director, The Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa and President, International AIDS Society

The HIV self-testing and partner notification guidelines are both necessary and timely! Testing is the critical first step to engaging with all other HIV prevention, treatment and care responses. By enabling testing in all settings and circumstances, through these new guidelines, we add important tools to our ever-expanding toolbox that will ensure universal access to excellent HIV services.


Mark Dybul, Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Mark Dybul 
Executive Director, Global Fund

WHO is supporting an increased focus on effective prevention alongside an expansion of antiretroviral therapy. It is also supporting innovations in HIV testing to reach the 14 million people with HIV who remain unaware of their HIV status. We are committed to supporting countries to expand innovative HIV interventions that help us push forward towards ending HIV as a public health threat. In this regard, we welcome WHO’s launch of new recommendations on HIV self-testing and assisted HIV partner notification, which will coincide with World AIDS Day 2016.

Self-testing is a great way to reach people who do not know their HIV status. It is an innovative strategy that will help accelerate access to and uptake of HIV testing. HIV testing is especially pivotal among people who are exposed to higher risk of HIV and who live in areas with low coverage of testing services. The service will be a great way to reach people with HIV who remain unaware of their status.

For it to succeed, global health partners will need to support this initiative to ensure linkages to confirmatory testing, treatment and care for those who test positive. Additionally, further comprehensive prevention efforts should be put in place for people who test HIV-negative. Self-testing will be a key tool in helping us bend the curve of HIV infections. It is why we support it unequivocally.


Dr Mehdi Karkouri - Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Ibn Rochd, Association de Lutte Contre le Sida, Morocco

Dr Mehdi Karkouri 
Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Ibn Rochd, Association de Lutte Contre le Sida, Morocco

As civil society, we are very excited about the release of these recommendations. The WHO guidelines represent a powerful tool for lobbying our governments and requesting them to apply the recommendations and improve access to HIV testing, a major bottleneck to the achievement of the 90-90-90's objectives. We believe that HIV self-testing may help to improve access to services, especially for key populations,


Dr Michael Brady - Medical Director, Terrence Higgins Trust

Dr Michael Brady 
Medical Director, Terrence Higgins Trust, UK

Rates of undiagnosed HIV remain unacceptably high and are contributing to continued HIV transmissions and preventable morbidity and mortality. We need a significant change to our approach to HIV testing that will ensure a dramatic increase in both the number of tests and the frequency of testing in those most at risk. HIV self-testing is innovative, acceptable and empowering and offers us a real opportunity to scale up testing and impact on the epidemic. WHO’s guidance and leadership is very welcome and, I hope, will mean that HIV self-testing soon becomes a global norm.


Midnight Poonkasetwattana - Executive Director, Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health, Thailand

Midnight Poonkasetwattana 
Executive Director, Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health, Thailand

We know that only about half of gay men and other men who have sex with men in the Asia-Pacific actually get tested for HIV, and 90% do not have access to HIV prevention and care because of discriminatory laws and practices. HIV self-testing is an alternative choice for individuals and an exciting tool to invigorate demand for HIV testing within the larger framework of health, human rights and development goals (SDG30). APCOM appreciates the partnership with WHO in gathering information from the field for HIV self-testing and assisted HIV partner notification and looks forward to working together to roll out the guidelines in a way that is led and owned by the communities that we work for and with.


Mitchell Warren - Executive Director, AVAC, USA

Mitchell Warren 
Executive Director, AVAC, USA

HIV testing is a critical entry point for both treatment and prevention, and these new HIV self-testing guidelines provide added impetus to make testing easier and more accessible. HIV self-testing offers the potential to quickly expand the number of people who knows their status and, more importantly, accelerate and simplify the linkage to both treatment and prevention services.


Niluka Perera - Projects Officer, Youth Voices Count, Thailand

Niluka Perera 
Projects Officer, Youth Voices Count, Thailand

With over one third of new HIV infections worldwide occurring among young people, these new recommendations on HIV self-testing and assisted partner notification will turn a new page in reaching out to more young people and making HIV testing convenient and readily available. With the epidemic increasingly concentrating among young people, we believe that the new recommendations will facilitate unique and creative interventions targeting young key populations across the globe to reduce new incidence.


Oliver Anene - The PACT and The HIV Young Leaders Fund, USA

Oliver Anene 
The PACT and The HIV Young Leaders Fund, USA

The PACT and The HIV Young Leaders Fund commend WHO for its guidelines on HIV self-testing and assisted partner notification. As young people burdened by the impact of HIV in our lives and communities, we welcome recommendations such as these that bolster and improve HIV prevention and treatment interventions globally. It is our belief that these recommendations, when implemented, will address some of the barriers young people face in accessing HIV testing services, and complement existing supportive services for young couples. It is therefore in the interest of ending the HIV epidemic among young people around the world, that we call on HIV service providers and policy makers to utilize these recommendations in their work.


Peter Cherutich 
Deputy Director of Medical Services, Ministry of Health, Kenya

Peter Cherutich - Deputy Director of Medical Services, Ministry of Health, Kenya

The launch of the WHO recommendations on HIV self-testing and assisted partner notification is very exciting and comes at a time when there is much optimism, especially in Africa, on ending the HIV epidemic. HIV self-testing, which I consider the ‘ultimate task-shifting’, is a paradigm shift that will dismantle the human rights barriers to HIV testing and expand access. Partner notification on the other hand will get to the heart of the HIV epidemic and accelerate the achievement of the first 90. We should seize the moment and implement these recommendations with passion and commitment.


Dr Phan Thi Thu Huong - Deputy director general, Vietnam Authority of HIV/HIV/AIDS control, Ministry of Health, Vietnam

Dr Phan Thi Thu Huong 
Deputy director general, Vietnam Authority of HIV/HIV/AIDS control, Ministry of Health, Vietnam

The Vietnamese government has endorsed global targets 90-90-90. The first 90 target is most critical as it is a gateway to reach the second and third 90 targets. As the same time, achieving the first 90 is very challenging since still many barriers prevent key populations in accessing to HIV testing services in Viet Nam. The release of WHO guidelines on HIV self-testing and partner notification is very timely. I believe that by introducing HIV self-testing, we can normalize HIV as other disease and may also save cost for health sector. This year Viet Nam introduced a HIV self-testing pilot programme in Ho Chi Minh City and this programme will expand into other provinces in 2017 to inform policy change on delivery of HIV testing services.


Rebecca Matheson - Global Director, International Community of Women Living With HIV (ICW), Kenya

Rebecca Matheson 
Global Director, International Community of Women Living With HIV (ICW), Kenya

The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) is pleased that WHO is providing guidelines that countries can adopt to increase options and interventions for reducing new HIV infections and ensure healthy lives for all people living with HIV particularly women and girls. The dream of having 90% of the population aware of their HIV status by 2020 will only be realized through innovation and critical shifts in guaranteeing HIV prevention services are accessible to all who need it. The option of HIV self -testing is one way of ensuring that women have choices for HIV testing that are safe, affordable, informed and confidential. Breaches in privacy and confidentiality often lead to stigma and discrimination, which deters women and girls from testing centres.

Disclosure is an emotionally difficult process. The benefits of voluntary partner notifications services will support people living with HIV to ensure our partners and families access timely HIV prevention intervention and promote the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV in the HIV response. ICW recommends that as countries seek to adopt these innovative technologies to intensify community awareness efforts they must include engagement of people living with HIV to realize responsive implementation in an environment that is enabling and respectful of human rights.


Rico Gustav - Executive Director a.i. of the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+)

Rico Gustav 
Executive Director a.i. of the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+)

Self-testing can be a powerful tool to increase the power and control people have over their diagnosis. However it must go hand in hand with having treatment available for those that test positive and want treatment, and where it is available ensuring that it is not misused and puts people at risk.


Dr Valdilea G. Veloso
Fiocruz, Brazil

We are sure these new guidelines are a step forward to increase HIV testing in Brazil.


Wafaa El-Sadr - Director ICAP and the Global Health Initiative at Columbia University, USA

Wafaa El-Sadr 
Director ICAP and the Global Health Initiative at Columbia University, USA

There are many compelling reasons as to why it is more important than ever to find out one’s HIV status. For an HIV-positive person today, there are excellent treatment options that can maintain health and wellbeing as well as prevent transmission of HIV to others. Yet, globally many millions of people living with HIV are unaware of their status and, thus, are have not garnered these benefits for themselves and their loved ones. The new WHO recommendations for HIV self-testing and assisted HIV partner notification will go a long way to overcoming this challenge. Offering HIV self-testing will make a difference in reaching those who have thus far been reluctant to get tested or have lacked access to HIV testing services. While at the same time enabling disclosure by persons with HIV to others allows them the opportunity to get the support they need and may serve to advance HIV prevention efforts. I am confident that the global community will enthusiastically welcome these new recommendations for HIV self-testing and disclosure support.