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Using drones to optimise care for children exposed to HIV in Conakry

8 June 2021 |  Press Release


Feasibility study for the ANRS 12407 AIR-POP project « Innovative and Rapid Access to Diagnosis and Treatment to Optimize the Care of Children Exposed to HIV in Conakry» 


Conakry, Republic of Guinea, 8 June 2021: Solthis, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the PNLSH (National AIDS and Hepatitis Control Programme) and the CNLS (National AIDS Control Committee) are testing from this Tuesday, June 8, drone flights for the transport of blood samples in Guinea to help reduce the morbidity and mortality of children born to mothers living with HIV. Funded by ANRS and implemented by Solthis and PNLSH, the ANRS 12407 AIR-POP project aims to study ways of optimising the transport of blood samples in the city of Conakry in comparison with ground transport by motorbike. The drone flights and motorbike transport will take place from 8 to 10 June 2021 from 8 am to 2 pm between the paediatric department of the Ignace Deen National Hospital and the molecular biology laboratory of the Donka National Hospital. 


Providing innovative and rapid access to diagnosis and treatment for children exposed to HIV

Despite progress in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in recent years, fewer than two in ten HIV-exposed children in Guinea receive early HIV testing and fewer than one in ten HIV-infected children receive treatment.

Early detection of HIV in infants whose mothers are living with HIV is a crucial issue to enable immediate treatment of infected children. Indeed, without testing, infected children cannot benefit from treatment and, without treatment, the majority of them risk dying before the age of 3 years and particularly in their first 3 months of life. HIV testing for children is therefore an emergency. 


Meeting the challenge of emergency transport in Guinea

In Conakry, there are few laboratories capable of performing HIV diagnosis in children. Conakry’s road congestion is a major obstacle to the rapid transport of blood samples. This is why the ANRS 12407 AIR-POP PROJECT proposes to test the use of drones and motorbikes for the transport of blood samples in order to improve access to early diagnosis and treatment for children born to mothers living with HIV. The use of drones could represent an innovative approach to transporting infant blood samples from Conakry’s health centres to Donka Hospital where a point of care (POC) machine can test infants for HIV in 90 minutes. This could reduce the time it takes to obtain results, which is often very long because of the conventional diagnostic tests used and the delay in getting the samples to the laboratories, and thus give all HIV-infected children the chance to benefit from immediate treatment and to be able to grow up like all other children. 



Today, Guinea’s priority is to make screening accessible to all, as 95% of people who know their status are already on treatment. The use of drones would allow us to reinforce this objective by providing results within a reasonable timeframe and thus optimise the care of mothers and their infants.” Dr Youssouf Koïta, Coordinator of the National HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Control Programme (PNLSH)

« The earlier an infected child is detected and treated after birth, the more likely he/she is to live  », says Dr Guillaume Breton, Head of Infectious Diseases and Research at Solthis. 



Press contacts

Oumou Diallo, AIRPOP project leader :
Email :
Phone : 624 510 944  / 622  599 997

Solthis : Solidarité thérapeutique et initiatives pour la santé (Solthis) is an international solidarity NGO whose objective is to improve prevention and access to quality health care by strengthening the health systems and services of the countries where it operates. Founded in 2003, Solthis is committed to a sustainable development approach in order to meet the long-term challenges of public health in countries with limited resources. For more information, visit




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