HIV testing in infants to cost less across the globe

Global partners in the HIVAids Diagnostics Access Initiative have announced a 35 per cent reduction in the price for early infant diagnostic technologies.

The new access price is now $9.40 per test. This means that more infants can be tested for HIV in time to get early treatment sooner, thereby saving the lives of many children.

Partners involved in the negotiation of this reduced access price include UNAIDS, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria and UNITAID.

“The price reduction is a positive step forward to make diagnosis of HIV more widely available, and to ensure children exposed to the virus receive life-saving treatment,” said UNAIDS executive director, Michel Sidibé.

The World Health Organisation recommends that all children exposed to HIV receive diagnostic screening within the first two months of life. However, only around half of such children receive early infant diagnostic screening, in part because costs have limited the number of testing platforms currently used in low- and middle-income countries.

This has contributed to a major gap in the access to HIV treatment. Last year, only 32 per cent of children living with HIV received antiretroviral therapy compared with 41 per cent of adults.

The HIVAids Diagnostics Access Initiative was launched at the International Aids Conference in Australia in July last year, to lay the groundwork to end the Aids epidemic, with a 90–90–90 target by 2020.

This means that 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their status 90 per cent of all people with an HIV diagnosis will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will achieve viral suppression.

The pricing agreement between Diagnostics Access Initiative and Roche Diagnostics is part of plans to meet this target. It is the second major pricing deal between the partners, after they announced a 40 per cent reduction in the global price of the leading platform for HIV viral load testing last year.