Meeting with Emilande Guichet
22 July 2021 | Informations
« True universal access to free HIV viral load testing cannot be achieved without strengthening health services and systems at all levels and through strong political commitment. »
Emilande Guichet is part of our network of experts regularly mobilised on our solidarity consultancies. She joined Solthis in 2017 as a Laboratory Advisor – Virology within the OPP-ERA project, where for 3 years she was in charge of the installation of molecular biology laboratories for the measurement of HIV viral load, the training and mentoring of staff and the implementation of a quality approach at the laboratory level. Following this experience, Emilande became a consultant for Solthis.
A pharmacist by training, Emilande holds a doctorate in virology research from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD). Her operational research work, focused on HIV resistance to antiretroviral treatments and the improvement of biological monitoring of people living with HIV in Southern countries, confirmed the importance of the HIV viral load test as a direct diagnostic tool for virological failure in three West and Central African countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Senegal), when used correctly.
« HIV viral load testing can identify people with viruses that have major resistance mutations to antiviral treatment. In accordance with WHO recommendations, my work confirmed the performance of this tool in identifying people who need to change their antiretroviral treatment, when this test is implemented in the right conditions, in particular with systematic support for adherence if necessary. Indeed, the presence of resistance mutations prevents first-line antiretroviral treatments from being effective and in this case, the “switch” to another treatment known as “second-line”. This change of treatment is essential to avoid the multiplication of the virus, which makes it possible both to guarantee a healthy quality of life for people living with HIV and to limit the transmission of HIV between individuals and thus to contain this epidemic for which we are now well equipped to put an end to it. This cannot be achieved without strengthening health services and systems at all levels and through strong political commitment. » Emilande Guichet
In 2020, Emilande and Solthis began a consultancy mission in Togo to improve access to viral load testing for people living with HIV. The first phase of this mission enabled us to assess the situation with the National AIDS and STI Control Programme (PNLS-IST) and the teams of 9 virology laboratories in Lomé and 4 other health regions, particularly with regard to laboratory aspects (infrastructure, equipment and reagents, human resources, etc.)
« I am quite proud to have succeeded in working in close collaboration with the 9 Togolese laboratory teams in a difficult context linked to the COVID-19 epidemic. We had to adapt by changing our practices and adapting certain tools: virtual visits to the laboratories, interviews and remote co-production with each of the sites and with the PNLS-IST. We are now waiting for phase 2 of the mission, which will allow us to co-construct a new plan for scaling up the viral load in the country, with an emphasis on strengthening the management and supply system.» Emilande Guichet
More about the Solidarity Consultancy at Solthis with Camille Estevenin, Technical Assistance Officer