About European Testing Week

 

What is European Testing Week?

Testing Week is an initiative that was launched by HIV in Europe in 2013 to increase testing efforts and create awareness of the benefits of early HIV testing. Now in its sixth year and the fourth time hepatitis testing has been included, European Testing Week will take place from 23-30 November 2018

European Testing Week offers partners across Europe the unique opportunity to unite to increase awareness of the benefits of early HIV and hepatitis testing among those who are at risk and promote increased access to testing. In 2017, more than 600 organisations from across 53 countries took part in testing week and thousands more people are now aware of their HIV and hepatitis status. Through united efforts, we hope that testing week 2018 is an even greater success.

What are the aims of European Testing Week?

The ultimate goal of European Testing Week is to increase efforts to make testing more accessible and communicate the benefits of earlier testing for hepatitis and HIV to reduce late diagnosis. The theme for this year’s testing week is Test. Treat. Prevent., with the aim of supporting ongoing dialogue between all partners in the HIV and hepatitis communities, in order to:

  • Encourage people who could be at risk of HIV or hepatitis to get tested
  • Encourage healthcare professionals to offer an HIV or hepatitis test as part of routine care in specific settings and conditions (in line with current European guidelines)
  • Support and unite community organisations to scale up access to HIV and hepatitis testing as far as possible and share lessons learned between countries
  • Make more government bodies aware of the individual, societal and economic benefits of HIV and hepatitis testing initiatives and how to evaluate testing practices.

Why is European Testing Week needed?

Today, at least 25% of the 2.2 million people living with HIV in Europe are unaware that they are HIV positive. Half of those living with HIV are diagnosed late – which delays access to treatment.

Hepatitis B and C are common among people at risk of and living with HIV. Around 15 million people and 14 million people are living with hepatitis B and C in the WHO European Region, respectivenly. As the disease is often asymptomatic and left untreated, chronic hepatitis is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and live cancer. The majority of people with hepatitis C remain undiagnosed and only a small minority in Europe (3.5%) receive treatment.

These statistics suggest that we need to be doing more to encourage individuals who are unknowingly living with HIV and/ or hepatitis to take a test, and to better target people who could be at risk.

 

Why is testing important?

It’s better for people at risk of HIV and/ or hepatitis to know their status as soon as possible. Today, HIV treatment advances mean that people living with HIV can live healthily for a long time if they are diagnosed early and those with hepatitis C can be cured.

When people are diagnosed with HIV and/or hepatitis late, they are less likely to respond well to treatment and more likely to have health and/or treatment-related complications.

Late presentation for HIV and hepatitis care is more costly for the healthcare system. Late diagnosis and delayed access to treatment are the most important factors associated with ongoing transmission of HIV and hepatitis and preventable related illnesses and death.

 

How can you get involved?

The first step is that your organisation signs up to participate.

There are many activities that you and your organisation can do for ETW. They can include activities such as:

  • Outreach testing activities for HBV/HCV/HIV
  • Awareness raising and/or advocacy initiatives
  • Engaging with HBV/HCV/HIV ambassadors or celebrities
  • Training/capacity building
  • Media campaigns and so much more! 

If you need some inspiration for your ETW activities, check out our Success Stories page of past activities from our partner organisations. 

For a comprehensive overview of how you could get involved, we recommend that you download Toolkit 2 – testing week implementation handbook.

Why sign up to participate in European Testing Week?

We are asking new partners to sign up and let everyone know you are supporting European Testing Week 2018. If you signed-up for past Testing Weeks, you will automatically be enrolled in European Testing Week 2018. You can opt-out of participating in European Testing Week at any time. To opt out, please email hie.rigshospitalet@regionh.dk.

By signing-up to participate in European Testing Week you are indicating that you intend to take action to contribute to achieving the aims of Testing Week to increase awareness of the benefits of hepatitis and HIV testing to increase the proportion of people who are aware of their HIV and/or hepatitis status.

Signing-up as a partner organisation also entails in contributing to the evaluation of the success of Testing Week. Partnering organisations are sent an online evaluation survey following Testing Week which on completion will help the HIV in Europe secretariat evaluate the value of the initiative in helping to reduce late HIV and/or hepatitis diagnosis; gather national and regional testing statistics; and measure website traffic and social media activity to get an idea of the coverage achieved by Testing Week.

For more information on how partnering organisations help support the evaluation of Testing Week, please see please see Toolkit 2 – testing week implementation handbook.

Some partnering organisations are featured on the dedicated Testing Week Success Stories page, where successful testing initiatives are highlighted to help inspire others with ideas about what they can do to encourage more people across Europe to get tested.

Who is Testing Week for?

Testing Week relies on three core groups to help ensure it achieves its aim:

  1. Government bodies
  2. Healthcare professionals  
  3. Non-governmental/civil society organisations

These partners may be active within the HIV and/or hepatitis fields or work with communities at an increased risk. These partners can help ensure and promote HIV and hepatitis testing and timely access to treatment as a national priority.

These organisations throughout Europe join together for one week and pledge to increase testing efforts and awareness of HIV and/or hepatitis in order to help more people become aware of their status and decrease late diagnosis.

Testing Week provides an opportunity for organisations to increase testing efforts and highlight the importance of HIV/hepatitis testing for key populations.

Key populations for HIV testing

In terms of who should be accessing HIV testing, key populations at higher risk in Europe vary from country to country, but in general they include:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who inject drugs
  • Sex workers
  • Migrants (including persons originating from a high prevalence country) and mobile populations
  • Prisoners
  • Trans people

Key populations for hepatitis testing

The key populations at higher risk of hepatitis are the same as those for HIV, above. In addition, those at increased risk of living with undiagnosed hepatitis include:

  • People on long-term haemodialysis
  • People who have received blood, blood products or organs before screening for hepatitis C was implemented, or where screening is not yet widespread
  • Healthcare workers

How is Testing Week organised and run?

HIV in Europe manages Testing Week in close collaboration with the European Testing Week Working Group, which comprises civil society representatives, healthcare professionals and government bodies. The working group was established to provide ongoing advice and support on the Testing Week concept and materials.

The European Testing Week Working Group comprises representatives from the following organisations:

Project management for the Testing Week initiative is run by the HIV in Europe secretariat, who can be contacted at: hie.rigshospitalet@regionh.dk

For further information on HIV in Europe and for a full list of organisations who fund its work, visit www.hiveurope.eu