About European Testing Week
European Testing Week (ETW) was started by the EuroTEST initiative in 2013 as a way to create a united European effort to raise awareness on the benefits of earlier testing for HIV. Acknowledging the overlaps in the key affected populations and transmission routes, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) were recognised as additional key focus areas for the initiative.
Since its initiation, ETW has occurred during the last full week of November. In 2018, the first Spring ETW was piloted in May in collaboration with the INTEGRATE Joint Action and the European Liver Patients’ Association to much success. Since then, ETW has been a biannual event taking place in the Spring (May) and Autumn (November). ETW has grown to be a widely recognised awareness campaign with hundreds of organisations participating each year in a united effort to increase access to testing and awareness on its importance.
European Testing Week offers partners across Europe the unique opportunity to unite to increase awareness of the benefits of early HIV, hepatitis and STI testing among those who are at risk and promote increased access to testing. Through united efforts, we hope that ETW continues to raise awareness on the importance of testing and increasing its accessibility throughout Europe.
The ultimate goal of ETW is to increase efforts to make testing more accessible and communicate the benefits of earlier testing for hepatitis, HIV, and STIs. The ongoing tagline for ETW is Test. Treat. Prevent., with the aim of supporting ongoing dialogue between all partners in the HIV, hepatitis, and STI communities, in order to:
Encourage people who could be at risk of HIV, hepatitis, and/or STIs to get tested
Encourage healthcare professionals to offer integrated testing for HIV, hepatitis, and/or STIs 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 integrated HIV, hepatitis, and STI testing as far as possible and share lessons learned between countries
Make more government bodies aware of the individual, societal and economic benefits of integrated HIV, hepatitis, and STI testing initiatives and how to evaluate testing practices.
Data from 2018 report that at least 36% of the 2.2 million people living with HIV in Europe are unaware that they are HIV positive. Just over half (53%) 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, respectively. As the disease is often asymptomatic and left untreated, chronic hepatitis is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. The majority of people with hepatitis C remain undiagnosed and only a small minority in Europe (3.5%) receive treatment.
In the EU/EEA and the UK, there are over 500,000 reported cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) each year according to data from 2018. Although reported cases of STIs in the region are lower compared to cases reported globally, the burden it creates in Europe is substantial with chlamydia being the most frequently reported STI.
This data shows that HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs continue to be long-standing and ongoing threat to public health. More must be done to reach the SDGs by 2030 and end these epidemics. More people need to be aware of their infection. Testing is the gateway to prevention, treatment, care and support. The earlier a person becomes aware of their infection, the sooner they can receive treatment, prevent possible transmission, and have better health outcomes.
European Testing Week serves as a reminder on the importance of integrated testing for HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs and provides an outlet for all actors involved in the provision of testing services in the WHO European Region (including community, health care and public health institutions) to advocate for increased access to testing, especially for key vulnerable populations.
It’s better for people at risk of HIV, viral hepatitis and/or STIs to know about their infection 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, those with HCV can be cured and there is effective treatment for several STIs.
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. Additionally, STIs often do not produce or show symptoms, therefore many are unaware that they may have an STI which can cause serious health consequences. Late diagnosis of HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs also pose the risk for potential onward transmission to others.
Testing is the first crucial step in the care pathway. Once a person gets tested, they can receive additional supportive services including but not limited to prevention, counselling, linkage to care, etc. Additionally, integrated testing or testing for more than one infection at the time of service is also a way to increase testing coverage and improve the efficiency of services.
ETW relies on three core groups to help ensure it achieves its aim:
- Government bodies
- Healthcare professionals
- Non-governmental/civil society organisations
These partners may be active within the HIV, viral hepatitis and/or STI fields or work with communities at an increased risk. These partners can help ensure and promote integrated HIV, viral hepatitis and STI testing and timely access to treatment as a national priority.
These organisations throughout Europe join together for one week twice per year and pledge to increase testing efforts and awareness of HIV, hepatitis and/or STIs in order to help more people become aware of their status and decrease late diagnosis.
ETW provides an opportunity for organisations to increase testing efforts and highlight the importance of HIV, hepatitis and STI testing for key populations.
Key populations for HIV testing
In terms of who should be accessing HIV and STI 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 and people who use drugs
- Sex workers
- Migrants (including persons originating from a high prevalence country) and mobile populations
- Trans people
Key populations for hepatitis testing
The key populations at higher risk of hepatitis are the same as those for HIV and STIs, 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
It’s easy to get involved and you and your organisation can participate within your own capacity. There is no minimum requirement for participation and you can engage during the week however you desire.
The secretariat does ask all interested organisations to sign-up on the ETW website. In doing so, you are pledging that your organisation plans to organise a local activity.
There are many activities that you and your organisation can do for ETW. They can include activities such as (but are not limited to):
- Outreach testing activities for HBV/HCV/HIV/STIs
- Awareness raising and/or advocacy initiatives
- Engaging with HBV/HCV/HIV/STI 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.
EuroTEST (originally named HIV in Europe) manages ETW 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 ETW concept and materials.
The European Testing Week Working Group comprises representatives from the following organisations:
- AIDS Action Europe (AAE)
- AIDS Healthcare Foundation Europe (AHF Europe)
- Apoyo Positivo, Spain
- Center for HIV/STI Epidemiological Studies of Catalonia (CEEISCAT), Spain
- Choices Support Center, Netherlands
- Coalition PLUS
- Correlation European Harm Reduction Network
- European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS)
- European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG)
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
- Eurasian Harm Reduction Association
- European Liver Patients' Association (ELPA)
- European Network of People who Use Drugs (EuroNPUD)
- European Sex Workers Rights Alliance
- Georgian Harm Reduction Network, Georgia
- HIV Ireland, Ireland
- Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Intersex Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO)
- Iskorak, Croatia
- Positiiviset ry, HivFinland, Finland
- Positive Voice, Greece
- ReShape/International HIV Partnerships (IHP)
- Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), United Kingdom
- University College Dublin, Ireland
- World Hepatitis Alliance
Project management for the ETW initiative is run by the EuroTEST secretariat, who can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information on EuroTEST and for a full list of organisations who fund its work, visit www.eurotest.org
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
In this section, you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about HIV, hepatitis, and/or STI testing and the European Testing Week initiative. If you have a question that hasn’t been addressed here, please contact us.
Access to HIV, hepatitis, and/or STI testing varies from country to country, however, tests are often offered by the following:
- Sexual health clinics also called genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
- Hospitals, department of infectious diseases
- Clinics or testing sites run by community-based HIV/hepatitis/STI organisations or charities
- Some General Practitioner offices
- Some contraception and young people’s clinics
- Local drugs agencies
- Antenatal clinics, if you are pregnant
- Private clinics
To find your nearest testing centre for HIV, STIs and hepatitis, use the European Test Finder.
The European Test Finder is a tool where any user can search for the nearest testing centre for HIV, hepatitis, STIs.
After the end of every ETW, the secretariat prepares and shares a brief report summarizing the main results of the initiative. This includes data from the sign up forms, such as number of organisations signed up as participants, characteristics of participating organisations, plans for ETW for participating organisations, use of social media for ETW, use of the European Test Finder during ETW, media coverage of ETW etc. Once in a while, an online survey is sent to all organisations/institutions who ever signed up to participate, to assess how ETW is used by participants and what the impact of ETW is, and to provide inputs for the planning of future ETWs.
Until 2022, online surveys were sent out to all participating organisations after every campaign, and the results were analysed and summarised into reports which are available on the ETW website. To access past ETW evaluation reports, click here.
By signing up to participate in European Testing Week, you indicate that you intend to take action to contribute to achieving the aims of ETW (to increase awareness of the benefits of HIV, hepatitis and STI testing to increase the proportion of people who are aware of their status.)
Increasing access to testing and promoting awareness of the benefits of early testing helps to ensure more people become aware of their status which can only happen with the support of partners like you. There is no minimum requirement for those who sign-up for ETW and it is entirely up to you to choose whether your local campaign activities will target HIV, hepatitis, STIs, or all, during ETW.
Having signed-up for European Testing Week, you may wish to:
- Host ETW events/activities
- Raise awareness amongst key populations regarding the importance of integrated HIV, hepatitis and/or STI testing
- Lobby government bodies around the importance of improved access to integrated HIV, hepatitis, and/or STI testing
- Recruit other organisations to sign up
- Encourage other testing sites in your community or nationally to sign-up on the European Test Finder to create a list of places in your country where individuals can access free, confidential and voluntary testing
- Engaging with HBV/HCV/HIV/STI ambassadors or celebrities
- Training/capacity building
- Organise media campaigns and so much more!
It is important to note, there is no requirement to offer testing as part of your activities for ETW– arranging other activities that raise awareness or education are just as important.
ETW is aimed at all civil society/non-profit/non-governmental organisations, healthcare professionals and their organisations, testing programme managers, governmental institutions and bodies, public health institutions, and other supporting organisations across the WHO European Region.
Please sign-up if you are:
- Part of an organisation that wants to participate in ETW
- Part of a healthcare professional association/hospital/clinic that wants to participate in ETW
- A policy organisation that wants to participate in ETW
- Organisations that support the expansion and uptake of integrated testing for HIV, hepatitis and STIs.
Yes – you are welcome to sign up if your organisation is only able to offer testing for HIV, hepatitis or STIs.
It may be useful to partner with other local organisations, if possible, in order to offer integrated testing services for HIV, hepatitis and/or STIs, although this is not essential.
It is also not essential to offer testing as part of ETW.
We have a process in place to review all submissions to the site. For this reason, it may take some time for your organisation name to appear. If your organisation name has not appeared within two working days please contact us.
Unfortunately, EuroTEST/European Testing Week is not in a position to offer any direct financial support to participating partners.
Instead, EuroTEST/European Testing Week would like to support you by offering a range of template materials, ideas for testing activities, a platform for sharing experiences and a condensed compilation of the evidence and European guidelines available on HIV, hepatitis and STI testing. These can be found in the materials and resources section of the website. There is also a fundraising toolkit available which provide ideas and guidance.
The ETW materials and supporting evidence have been tailored for European countries and key populations at higher risk. If any of the guidance toolkits are helpful and suitable for adaptation to support testing initiatives outside of Europe, please feel free to use them.
If you would like to support European Testing Week, you may wish to contact organisations taking part in your country and ask them if they need support from volunteers.
Feel free to download our logo and use it to display on your website, social media accounts or other platforms to show your support!
Please visit the Campaign materials section for a full list of ETW materials for you to adapt and use, both in English and a number of other languages, along with guidance on how these materials should be used.
Unfortunately, not all countries implement a policy of ensuring timely access to free care and treatment for those who test positive for HIV, hepatitis, and/or STIs. So as part of European Testing Week, we support implementing partners in ongoing efforts to lobby government bodies to employ healthcare policies that meet European guidelines, including access to treatment.
For more information, please visit our Useful links page.
Further materials and literature can be found on the EuroTEST website.