November 23 to 29, 2020 is International Testing Week! HIV, hepatitis B and C, sexually transmitted infections, and even COVID-19: take the test! Coalition PLUS and its member and partner associations are joining forces to help you take the step!
International Testing Week: mobilization around the globe!
In order to make access to testing a reality for all, Coalition PLUS and its member and partner associations are organizing the first International Testing Week this year. As an extension of European Testing Week, we are putting in place actions adapted to national health contexts to promote testing for:
- hepatitis B and C,
- sexually transmitted infections,
- and even COVID-19 and some cancers.
As such, our community-based associations are planning ‘community-based’ testing operations at health centers and off site in complete confidentiality and security, in the countries where this is possible. Indeed, notably thanks to our contingency fund, our activists have the protective equipment needed to carry out tests in compliance with barrier measures. In countries where, conversely, restrictions on movement and contact remain in place, other solutions exist such as HIV self-testing.
International Testing Week: know what’s what and take action to end epidemics!
Whatever the infection, knowing your status – whether positive or negative – is vital to caring for yourself… and others! Only once you’ve been tested can you access treatment and enter the care continuum. By taking control of our health, we can help control epidemics.
Indeed, testing is the first step to ending HIV and viral hepatitis. But we are still a long way off the target. Today, 1 out of 5 people living with HIV globally do not know their status. For hepatitis C, only 20% of people affected know that they are infected. The cause: the stigmatization, discrimination and inequalities that alienate the most vulnerable populations from testing and care!
Community-based testing: a winning prevention strategy
Yet, our experience shows that once trained in the required biomedical tasks, people from the populations most exposed to HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs are the best placed to test their peers! Because they understand their needs and the realities of their lives, they provide a secure and non-judgmental environment. What’s more, this approach is entirely complementary to the traditional health system. Whatever the result of the test, these community health workers are able to direct those tested to care structures depending on the health issues encountered. Unfortunately, the true value of this expertise is still not recognized. That must change.
As part of International Testing Week, Coalition PLUS and its member and partner associations are calling on public authorities. Testing must be accessible to all, even in the most remote areas and within the most marginalized communities!
- Recognition and incorporation of community-based testing in public health policy.
- Effective access to prevention and testing tools globally.
- A WHO recommendation on the introduction of self-testing for hepatitis C (HCV).
- Testing accessible to all: HIV, HCV, other sexually transmitted infections, cancer (cervical, anal), etc.
- A proactive stance against the discrimination and stigmatization that prevent key populations from accessing care.
- The involvement of civil society in COVID-19 testing strategies.