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Abbott Partners With Population Services International (PSI) And Unitaid To Improve Access To Affordable Blood-based HIV Self-test Kits

  • 3 min read

In Low-And Middle-income Countries Globally

  • According to the UNAIDS 2021 data report, more than 37 million people are living with HIV worldwide – an estimated 6.1 million of whom do not know their status.
  • CheckNOW™ HIV self-tests (HIVST) developed by Abbott to be distributed in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs)* at a fixed final landing price.

HIV testing is essential across the continuum of care but too often unavailable, unaffordable, or inaccessible. Abbott, the global leader in diagnostics and the fight against HIV, is partnering with Population Services International (PSI) and Unitaid to make HIV self-testing (HIVST) available at an affordable and accessible price. An initial 400 000 tests will be distributed within Africa.

This vital partnership serves as an early market access vehicle to enable affordable access to high-quality self-test kits in high HIV burden settings with a dire need for access to healthcare services, while mitigating risks such as increased supply chain costs and custom fees. People who test positive will undergo confirmatory testing and will be linked to antiretroviral treatment, keeping them healthy and helping reduce further transmission to others.

“With millions of people living with HIV worldwide, many of whom –do not know their status – receiving a diagnosis is a vital first step in accessing treatment”, says Bassem Bibi, divisional vice president, for Abbott’s rapid diagnostics business for EEMEA. “This is why this

partnership is so important to Abbott as it reinforces our commitment to enabling people in Africa to live healthier, fuller lives, by improving testing capabilities through high quality and affordable blood-based HIV self-tests.”

“Self-testing has shifted the paradigm for HIV testing.  The HIV Self-Testing Africa (STAR) Initiative amassed compelling evidence that HIVST can reach more people than traditional diagnostics. It offers an alternative option to people living with HIV to find out about their status and to access anti-retroviral treatment services. Self-testing is a critical entry point to HIV prevention services for those testing negative, including the delivery of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). It is also useful for screening in health facilities and to keep services going during COVID-19 and any future emergencies. We require more product options to meet the growing demand,” said Dr. Karin Hatzold, Director of the STAR Initiative Project and Associate Director of HIV/TB Programs at PSI. “This important partnership under the early market access vehicle will make it easier for countries to acquire products and embed them in health systems. This will ensure that self-test kits are affordable to those who want to access them.”  

The Abbott HIV self-test kits will be distributed strategically to communities with inadequate access to healthcare services and will help build capacity to meet the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets for 2025. The 95-95-95 targets stipulate that 95% of people living with HIV know their status; 95% of people who know their status are on antiretroviral therapy; and 95% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads.

“Self-testing has helped us reach beyond health centres and make testing easier. This is critically important for vulnerable groups who are often at higher risk of HIV but may also be hesitant to access health services for fear of stigma, discrimination, and violence,” said Dr. Philippe Duneton, executive director of Unitaid. “Making quality self-testing kits widely available and affordable is vital to reaching people at risk of HIV with the opportunity to test privately and access life-saving care.”