20 July 2015 A dramatic 35 percent reduction in the price for HIV early infant diagnostic technologies today has been announced by the United Nations-backed Diagnostics Access Initiative, in partnership with Roche Diagnostics.
“This agreement with Roche Diagnostics is a powerful step towards ending the unconscionable failure of the world to meet the treatment needs of children living with HIV,” said Michel Sidibé, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) Executive Director, in a press release.
“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 new access price is US$ 9.40 per test. Bringing together global and regional partners, the Diagnostics Access Initiative calls for improving laboratory capacity to ensure that all people living with HIV can be linked to effective, high-quality HIV treatment services. The Initiative was launched by UNAIDS in July 2014.
Partners involved in the negotiation of this particular reduced access price include the Clinton Health Access Initiative Inc., the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and UNITAID.
With peak mortality among children living with HIV occurring at 6-8 weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all children exposed to HIV receive early infant diagnostic screening within the first two months of life.
However, only around half of them receive early infant diagnostic screening, in part because costs have limited the number of testing platforms currently used in low and middle-income countries.
This has contributed to a major gap in HIV treatment access, as in 2014, only 32% of children living with HIV received antiretroviral therapy compared with 41% of adults. Without knowing the HIV status of a child it is impossible to access life-saving treatment. And without treatment, half of all children born with HIV will die by the age of two and the majority will die by the age of five.
UNAIDS set up a target called "90-90-90", that provides that by 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90 per cent of all people with an HIV diagnosis will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will achieve viral suppression.
“As the leader in HIV diagnostics, Roche is proud to support the UNAIDS 90:90:90 goal by expanding access to quality HIV testing for early infant diagnosis in resource limited settings,” stated Roland Diggelmann, Chief Operating Officer of Roche Diagnostics.
“Increased access to early infant diagnosis can provide an impactful contribution for mother and child and contribute to achieving UNAIDS' goals for controlling and eradicating the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” he added.
This is the second major pricing agreement that partners in the Diagnostics Access Initiative have forged with Roche Diagnostics. In 2014, these partners, joined by the Government of South Africa, announced a 40% reduction in the global price of the leading platform for HIV viral load testing. The new cost for early infant diagnosis is the same as the one negotiated for viral load testing for adults.
“This agreement builds on and supports other efforts of a strong partnership to make the market for viral load testing more competitive and transparent, and that better serves children affected by HIV,” said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund.
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