A Call to Action Toward Integrated Testing and Earlier Care for Viral Hepatitis, HIV, STIs and TB

D Raben; M Hoekstra; L Combs; AK Sullivan; JV Lazarus; JS Lambert; D Simões; A Streinu-Cercel; JK Rockstroh

Disclosures

HIV Medicine. 2020;21(6):403-408. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

Objectives: The objective of the paper is to present the outcomes of the HepHIV 2019 conference, held in Bucharest under the Romanian EU Presidency and focusing on challenges of timely and integrated testing and care.

Methods: The conference programme was put together by the organizing committee. It consisted of invited talks and peer-reviewed abstracts.

Results: In all, 65 abstracts from 20 countries were presented during the conference, which had nearly 250 delegates, including high-profile political representation. The conference highlighted the need to shift towards further disease integration because of the epidemiological characteristics of the hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), HIV, sexually transmitted infection (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB) epidemics in the WHO European region. Integration should be a priority in the response to the epidemics to better reach key populations and to ensure better testing coverage. This relates to both the integration of services in shared care models and the integration of different settings and stakeholders in national strategies.

Conclusions: The conference demonstrated the need for greater political support for the policy changes required to implement integration. Testing normalization efforts are key to maximizing the impact of integration efforts. The conference call to action can help to guide developments in testing and linkage-to-care interventions across the European region.

Introduction

Since 2007, the HIV in Europe initiative, now known as EuroTEST, has organized conferences focusing on earlier testing and linkage to care.[1] The HepHIV conference in Bucharest took place in January 2019 under the patronage of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Speakers included the Romanian Minister of Health and representatives from the European Commission, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe (WHO Europe). Almost 250 delegates from 37 countries participated in the 3-day conference, including clinicians, community organization representatives, researchers and policy officials.

The theme of the conference was "Challenges of timely and integrated testing and care" and it aimed to provide an overview of developments in testing and care for viral hepatitis and HIV, to encourage stakeholders to develop creative solutions to research and implementation challenges, and to find ways to translate ambitious goals and targets into action. The conference was co-organized with INTEGRATE, the 3-year EU-funded joint action. It also featured the official announcement of HIV in Europe's rechristening as EuroTEST to reflect the expansion of the initiative's disease scope to address not only HIV, but also hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB). EuroTEST seeks to utilize integrated strategies to help increase early detection and earlier entry into treatment for these diseases, leading to better health outcomes and preventing the risk of further transmission.

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