The UN Programme on HIV and AIDS on Monday announced a 35 per cent reduction in the price of HIV early infant diagnostic technologies.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, in New York.
Mr. Sidibé said an agreement with Roche Diagnostics was a powerful step towards ending the unconscionable failure of the world to meet the treatment needs of children living with HIV.
“We now need to use this agreement to rapidly scale up diagnostic and treatment services for all children living with HIV in line with the 90-90-90 target,” the statement quoted Mr. Sidibé as saying.
Mr. Sidibé said the new access price was $9:40 per test.
He said bringing together global and regional partners, the Diagnostics Access Initiative called for improving laboratory capacity to ensure that all people living with HIV could be linked to effective, high-quality HIV treatment services.
The UNAIDS boss said the initiative was launched by UNAIDS in July 2014.
He said partners involved in the negotiation of the reduced access price were the Clinton Health Access Initiative Inc., the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, among others.
Mr. Sidibé said with peak mortality among children living with HIV occurring at six to eight weeks, the World Health Organisation recommended that all children exposed to HIV received early infant diagnostic screening within the first two months of life.
He, however, added that only around half of them received early infant diagnostic screening partly because costs had limited the number of testing platforms currently used in low and middle-income countries.
He said the cost implication had contributed to a major gap in HIV treatment access, whereas in 2014, only 32 per cent of children living with HIV received antiretroviral therapy compared to 41 per cent of adults.
He explained that without knowing the HIV status of a child, it was impossible to access life-saving treatment.
Mr. Sidibé also disclosed that without treatment, half of all children born with HIV would die by the age of two and the majority of the remaining half would die by the age of five.
He said that UNAIDS had set up a target called the 90-90-90.
“The 90-90-90 provides that first, by 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status,” he explained. “Second, the target provides that 90 per cent of all people with an HIV diagnosis will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy. Third, it provides that 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will achieve viral suppression.”
In a related development, Roland Diggelmann, chief operating officer of Roche Diagnostics, has expressed satisfaction with Roche’s support to UNAIDS 90:90:90.
Mr. Diggelmann, in a statement, said the 90:90:90 target would expand access to high quality HIV testing for early infant diagnosis.
“As the leader in HIV diagnostics, Roche is proud to support the UNAIDS 90:90:90 goals by expanding access to quality HIV testing for early infant diagnosis in resource limited settings,” he said.
This is the second major pricing agreement the Diagnostics Access Initiative have forged with Roche Diagnostics.