Discussions and first progress report of the project
26 February 2020
From 10 to 13 February, all the partners of the ATLAS Project met in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, for the second consortium meeting. While the first meeting, organized in July 2019 in Saly, Senegal, clarified the standards, procedures and methods, this second edition was an opportunity to make an assessment of the progress made as the distribution of HIV self-test kits has begun in the three countries where the project is being implemented, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal.
Partners from institutions, implementation and research were all gathered to present the progress of their work, their good practices, the difficulties they face and to reflect on upcoming issues, particularly in terms of transition and diffusion. As Dr Blaise Kouamé, representing Professor Eboi Ehui, Director Coordinator of the National AIDS Control Programme in Côte d’Ivoire, recalled,
“self-testing appears as an opportunity to touch people who are difficult to reach with routine services. […]We are aware that early diagnostic and treatment of HIV infection offers many benefits at both individual and population levels. This second consortium […] is a forum for discussion that will help to discuss the project’s implementation in order to better guide strategies for achieving the objectives.”
Objectives are on track, in that all partners have begun dispensation, and are showing increasing distribution figures: by the end of December 2019, more than 26,000 kits had been distributed, and all the partners have shown their confidence in achieving the objectives by the end of the project.
|13 137 dispensed self-testing kits in Côte d'Ivoire
|7 792 dispensed self-testing kits in Mali
|5 284 dispensed self-testing kits in Sénégal
An important part of the consortium meeting was also dedicated to project research various components coordinated by the IRD, which began in the second half of 2019. Their a results will help to feed the operationality of the project. Finally, group work, around three key questions related to monitoring of self-screening results, notification and delegation of tasks, was organized over half a day in order to reflect together on the main issues for the coming months. .
These meetings between partners remain crucial moments of sharing and exchange in the management of the ATLAS project, as its success depends on coordinated and concerted action by all the actors involved. This is a success that everyone hopes to achieve, since access to testing remains the key to the other stages of the fight against HIV, access to treatment and viral load control in particular. As emphasized by Dr Brigitte Quenum, UNAIDS Country Director in Côte d’Ivoire, represented by Dr Isabelle Kouamé, “HIV testing gives people the knowledge they need to choose the best treatment options and prevention methods. Knowledge is real power: the power to make the right choices to stay healthy, but also the power to live long and stay productive”