March 2018

HIV Medicine special issue on the outcomes of the HepHIV 2017 Malta Conference: HIV and Viral Hepatitis: Challenges of Timely Testing and Care by HIV in Europe Initiative

In February 2018, the British medical journal HIV Medicine published the special issue “Outcomes of the HepHIV 2017 Malta Conference: Joining Forces for Earlier Diagnosis and Linkage to Care Across Europe”. The HepHIV 2017 conference was organized by HIV in Europe, in collaboration with European stakeholders, from the 31 January – 2 February 2017 in Malta, and was the second European conference to bring together stakeholders from the fields of HIV and viral hepatitis to discuss timely testing and care for the two related conditions.


The HepHIV 2017 Malta Conference was attended by 258 people from all over the world. Among the participants – a European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, representatives from ECDC, WHO Regional Office, European AIDS Treatment Group and many others.


The special issue of HIV Medicine provides an overview of the main challenges in this field across Europe and it contains 12 conference presentations addressing questions about testing policies and strategies, monitoring and evaluation of different testing activities and linkage to care.  Three of the short communications derive from the three-year project OptTEST by HIV in Europe.


Follow the link to read the special issue: HIV Medicine: Outcomes of the HepHIV 2017 Malta Conference: Joining Forces for Earlier Diagnosis and Linkage to Care Across Europe


September 2017

Joint Final Conference Euro HIV EDAT and OptTEST Projects & launch of INTEGRATE Joint Action

The European Commission’s contribution to strengthening health systems: From HIV testing and linkage to care to integration of HIV, Hepatitis, TB & STIs

On 19 September 2017 an open conference was held in Brussels at Thon City Hotel to present policy relevant outcomes from the two EU-co financed projects OptTEST and Euro HIV EDAT, which have come to an end after three years of intense work. 
In the afternoon a policy session and debate on how to move towards integration of HIV, hepatitis, TB  & STIs was arranged with the official launch of the EU-co –financed Joint Action on integrating prevention, testing and link to care strategies across HIV, viral hepatitis, TB and STIs in Europe (INTEGRATE), which brings together 29 partners from 15 countries and runs for three years. 

Commissioner for Health & Food Safety Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis delivered a speech in relation to the INTEGRATE Partnership Forum 20 September. 

Meeting report is available here and presentations can be found here. 

Press release from The European Commission, Health and Food Safety Directorate General

Community Training in Berlin

September 13 and 14th 2017, the first European HIV Academy for Enabling Legal Environments brought together 30 advocates from 20 countries working on HIV-related law and policy reform across the WHO Europe region.
This European Legal Enviroments Training Academy (#ELETA) was a joint collaboration of the HIV Justice Network, AIDS Action Europe, European AIDS Treatment Group and Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+).

 The meeting was a fantastic opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of the many legal barriers to health, dignity, and HIV prevention for people living with, and affected by, HIV; increase skills and capacity of people living with and affected by HIV by using new tools created by each of the #ELETA partners; develop stronger relationships and networks within and across Europe; and catalyse co-ordination and strengthen community voices from across Europe on the road to AIDS 2018 and beyond.

Thanks to our hosts at Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe, everyone who participated, and to our funding partners, OptTEST by HiE and ViiV Europe.

 Coming soon - #ELETA the video!

 As part of the meeting presentations of the Legal and Regulatory Barriers website  (
were made as well as a discussion on how this could be updated and used for advocacy in country) 

See presentation on Legal and Regulatory Barriers to testing and treatment here.


National Stakeholder Meeting: Optimizing HIV testing and Linkage to care in Spain 

On the 14 September 2017 at the National Center for Epidemiology, ISCIII, Madrid a meeting was held to discuss how findings from the Opt-test project can help curving the HIV epidemic in Spain. On the agenda were the following presentations: 

  • Valerie Delpech, Public Health England presented new data on the elimination of HIV in the United Kingdom – we are on the way!  
  • Asunción Díaz, CNE, ISCIII, presented Spanish data  
  • Olivia Castillo, National Plan on AIDS, Ministry of Health, spoke about the Spanish Guidelines for HIV testing  
  • Julia del Amo, CNE, ISCIII, presented the cost-effectiveness analyses data from Spain  
  • Vicky Hernando CNE, ISCIII, talked about the guidelines revision Spanish specialty guidelines - 
  • Susi Pérez-Elías, Hospital Ramón y Cajal Madrid explained the progress in IC-guided testing in Madrid  
  • Guiding testing & routine offer in Madrid 

The meeting allowed for a rich discussion of  the progress towards curving the HIV epidemic in Spain.  

July 2017 

Launch of tools developed to optimise HIV testing and linkage to care 25 July 2017

Coming to an end after an intensive project period of three years, OptTEST showcased some key and essential results, outcomes and achievements from the project at the IAS2017 conference. This provided an excellent opportunity for PLHIV community members, researchers and experts to come together and take a closer look at what has been achieved, and how this can be used in order to improve testing and linkage to care in Europe. 

  • Dorthe Raben, CHIP,  gave an introduction to the projects most important milestones.
  • Yazdan Yazdanpanah, MD, INSERM, France gave an introduction to the modelling of cost-effectiveness to changes in national HIV testing policies on the basis of the country examples of Estonia, France and Spain. Using some proven mathematical modelling, OptTEST could not only demonstrate the economic efficiency of regular testing of key populations, but also could draw conclusions as regards the recommended frequency of testing in different settings.

  • Ann Sullivan, MD, SSAT, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, UK introduced some of the new tools to facilitate implementation of IC-guided HIV testing in non-HIV clinics. One of the outcomes of OptTEST is a collection of very practical guidances for test providers in the most varied settings in very easy to use visual format with audio and text guidelines.

  • Lisa Power, OptTEST consultant, UK, introduced the Advocacy Toolkit developed as part of OptTEST. This part of the project looked first at the legal barriers to HIV testing and linkage to care, and then also at the good practices from all over Europe to understand how these barriers are overcome in different countries and constituencies. Addressing legal and regulatory barriers to HIV testing sometimes requires inspiration and creativity, and the collection of best practices is an excellent documentation of these concepts and ideas.

  • Julian Hows, GNP+, explained in more detail what the independent review of legal and regulatory barriers to HIV testing in the 53 WHO Europe countries had found, and also introduced the database of these issues that is available online via the OptTEST website, and will then also be disseminated further. In order to come to “hard barriers”, HIV stigma has been systematically filtered out from the data, and the remaining collection of factors that keep away people from HIV testing is still staggering.

  • Justyna Kowalska, MD, Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Warsaw, Poland gave a detailed introduction to their experience with OptTEST: “OptTEST in Poland and Poland in OptTEST”, as she put it. Engaging national stakeholders in discussions on data on linkage to care is not always simple or straightforward, and Justina also warned about the risks and consequences of changes in national politics (government or policy changes), and the impact these changes can have on the institutions of HIV testing that tend to be volatile and vulnerable.

Key tools from the toolbox are currently being translated into several European languages to make sure that they are available to stakeholders engaged in testing and linkage to care as widely as possible

July 2017 

OptTEST meeting in Barcelona, Spain 

The OptTEST project, in collaboration with CEEISCAT, Barcelona University Hospital Clinic and the Public Health Agency of Catalonia organised a regional meeting on 10 July 2017 in Barcelona, Spain, on Improving early diagnosis in primary care in Catalonia and in Europe. The meeting gathered about 50 participants, representatives of primary care centres, public health and research institutions, and private foundations from Catalonia as well as international partners of the OptTEST project.
The event was closely linked to the development and implementation of tools and strategies for indicator condition (IC) guided HIV testing, which is an essential part of OptTEST. The goal is to test a novel, evidence-based HIV testing strategy in healthcare settings across Europe with the aim of developing applicable tools and training materials for its broader implementation. The objective of the day was to present these initiatives proposed by the OptTEST project and the results of the implementation by the Catalan participants, as well as the current testing situation in Catalonia. The focus was on the existing barriers to testing and the linkage to care, especially within primary care.

The first part of the programme provided an overview of the situation in Catalonia. The region is known for its innovative initiatives for testing, especially in community settings and among high-risk groups. However, an important proportion of new cases are still diagnosed late. Primary care plays an important role in increasing early diagnosis.  
The second part of the programme looked at IC guided HIV testing within the OptTEST project. Three conditions were included in the work: hepatitis B and C, infectious mononucleosis-like syndrome and pneumonia. Web-based implementation tools and training modules, adaptable for specific countries/regions have been developed. Encouraging results of the implementation of some of these tools (slidesets and online resources) in local centres in Catalonia were also presented. In this context, results of a specialty guideline review were also presented. The results show the lack of inclusion of HIV and recommendation of testing in national guidelines pertaining to AIDS-defining conditions and ICs. In addition to the gaps in guidelines, other barriers to IC guided testing were discussed. These include lack of knowledge and fear of negative patient responses among professional staff, unclear referral lines as well as lack of time and support from management. Some facilitators that were suggested were questionnaires to be filled in prior to the consultation or automatic alerts in the patient database when entering IC related features.  
Different regional testing initiatives and surveys were presented. There is proof that IC guided testing is cost-effective, and that automatic alerts can improve the testing rates by reminding the health care professionals to perform an HIV test. Better sharing of patient data electronically can improve linkage to care. Training has been shown to have good impact on how often testing is offered to patients. Also the use of rapid tests in primary care settings was suggested as a way to avoid losing patients who do not come back for their test results. However, there was discussion about the suitability of these type of tests in primary care. 

The day ended by presentations about staff training initiatives. Both face-to-face and online training modules show encouraging results. The so called 3clics project provides an informative website gathering clinical practice guides, nursing guides and abstracts of relevant articles.
Many challenges remain in Catalonia and in Europe to reach increased early HIV diagnosis and better linkage to care within the primary care setting. Guidelines on ICs need to include recommendation of HIV testing. IC guided testing could be included as one of the outcomes clinics need to report on annually. The barriers among medical staff can be tackled with more training. Collaboration between the different actors in the area was highlighted as a key issue. The local examples or well working strategies (e.g., automatic alerts) should also be shared on the European level, to ensure that best practice and evidence are shared and implemented


June 2017

National stakeholder meeting, Lisbon

On 5 and 6 June OptTEST by HiE, GAT (Group of Treatment Activists in Portugal) and Ser+(Association to prevent and challenge HIV/AIDS) brought together community, clinicians, officials from regional health institutions and the Ministry of Health in Lisbon for a round-table on steps to be taken to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of testing in primary care in Portugal, and to improve linkage to care of key populations. The discussion was set in the context of an update in guidelines and served to build consensus on issues to be addressed, and possible remedies among actors in civil society, health professionals and public health institutions representatives.

The meeting started with the presentation of the RESPECT survey of 150 health professionals in 3 regional primary care clusters (Cascais, Loures/Odivelas and Amadora), which was carried by Sermais as part of OptTEST. The results indicate issues to be addressed to strengthen and improve the quality of services for people living with HIV, and other key affected populations. The main issues raised included knowledge gaps on HIV; stigmatising attitudes towards people living with HIV and vulnerable groups; unnecessary precautionary measures and lack of adherence with guidelines on hygiene; lack of mechanism for the communication of relevant information between health professional in line with personal data protection rules. The session was followed by a presentation from one of the OptTEST pilot sites for the implementation indicator condition testing in Spain that addressed education, HIV offer flowchart, patient leaflet, quality assurance of testing and sustainability. Amongst others, the pilot results pointed out the need for continuous education to modify practices and the usefulness of patient information leaflets.

The presentations were followed by a discussion on the RESPECT survey itself, and measures to be taken to address barriers. There was a discussion on the need for continuous education/training, and on how to improve the uptake of rapid testing in primary care. In that context, it was noted that the providers in health care settings could learn from rapid testing in community settings.

On 6 June, the stakeholders discussed linkage to and retention in care starting with introductory remarks on the situation in Portugal with persons who are lost to follow up. Then OptTEST presented work around measurement of and barriers to linkage to care. Representatives from the ministry of health then presented on financing of HIV care and challenges. The discussion that followed focused on challenges in measuring linkage to care and possible solutions. It was noted that there are two databases, one for case reporting and a clinical database. The date of CD4 monitoring is noted as the date of diagnosis. In Portugal the diagnosis is made after confirmation of the viral load by the doctor following the patient not the day of the confirmatory test. Therefore, the case definition is different from other countries.

It was noted that ECDC surveillance questionnaire now includes earliest positive/reactive test, as well as date of start of treatment. Participants raised the issue of case definition with rapid test reactive test not being considered. It was also noted that if someone has a reactive but no confirmatory test, it should be considered as missing from linkage to care. In the UK, it was pointed that rapid test results are only kept and noted if the person was linked to care. A participant recommended the establishment of a monitoring system through the network of community based testing centres. One participant noted that the form the doctor should fill should say where the referral came from. 

The second part of the discussion looked at hospital financing and administrative barriers to linkage to care. Hospitals get a fixed amount per patient based on prediction on patients in their respective districts. This means that a hospital may be reluctant to accept patients from other districts as they would need to cover them from own resources. It was also noted that when the new guidelines are adopted recommending to offer treatment upon diagnosis, the current financing system will face challenges. Hence, a participant suggested to centralise the funding system. The session then looked at administrative barriers to linkage to care for citizens seeking care where they reside but where they are not registered; undocumented migrants; migrants residing for less than three months. Participants concluded on the need to streamline laws and regulations to reflected scientific evidence and treatment guidelines.      

April 2017

OptTEST at BHIVA 2017

During the BHIVA conference in April, WP4 of the OptTEST project, ran a quality of care data drop-in clinic organised by Public Health England. In the UK, one of the OptTEST pilot countries, data collected as part of the national surveillance of HIV is used to create local dashboards of HIV care quality (e.g. measurements of linkage to care, retention in care, treatment coverage etc). HIV clinicians were able to stop by the PHE/OptTEST stand or make appointments to discuss their local dashboards, data quality, reporting issues, and care data summaries. Project staff were at hand to promote the project and WP4 analyses to date.

March 2017

Cost-effectiveness of HIV testing in Spain

Julia del Amo presented the OptTEST modeling  work on cost-effectiveness of HIV testing approaches in Spain at the XVIII Spanish National Congress on AIDS and STIs held in Sevilla, Spain, 22-24 March 2017.  The presentation is available here.

January 2017 

EU Health Programme Projects' Symposium

This event was co-organized between OptTEST, Euro HIV EDAT and Chafea and had as its aim to foster dialogue, discussion and collaboration among EU co-financed projects and actions within the field of HIV, Hepatitis and TB. 

The Symposium was co-chaired by Wolfgang Philipp from DG SANTE and Olivia Castillo Soria, Head of Area of HIV Prevention, from the Ministry of Health, Spain. The proceedings from the Symposium are available here

All presentations are available here: 

Photographer: DARRIN J. ZAMMIT LUPI - see:

OptTEST at HepHIV 2017 

OptTEST partners have been presenting results in different sessions, and the last day of the HepHIV 2017 conference was a symposium sponsored by OptTEST with special focus on optimization of testing and linkage to care. 

Oral presentations: 


Round table discussion: 

  • The role of stigma and criminalisation barriers in discouraging testing. Panel members: Julian Hows (GNP+) and Lisa Power among others.

Picture gallery from HepHIV

Photographer: DARRIN J. ZAMMIT LUPI - see:

November 2016

New searchable database

Want to know what legal and regulatory barriers your country, or others in Europe, are putting in the way of better HIV testing and treatment? Barring The Way To Health is a new searchable database which outlines a range of impediments to key populations and others with HIV who seek testing and access to care across the 53 countries of Europe and Central Asia. You can pull out a particular issue that concerns you across Europe, or read about a particular country. You can comment and offer amendments - and if your country is one of the small minority not yet covered, we welcome your information on it.

The OptTEST legal & regulatory barriers toolkit, available in full by Spring 2017, will be of use to anyone who wants to dismantle such barriers in their own country. The toolkit takes a "pick and mix" approach, enabling users to take what they need without wading through an enormous pdf. A series of case studies illustrates how activists, clinicians and other alliances took down specific barriers to HIV testing and treatment in their countries. Tip sheets show how to go about implementing these ideas, or your own, within your country setting. Slide sets will support presentations about the importance of identifying and mitigating barriers, to enable alliances and discussion. Each piece of the toolkit will be separately downloadable and the ideas within them adaptable to differing country circumstances and the original materials will be accompanied by a critical reading list which points the reader to many more existing resources online, with short explanations of their usefulness.


October 2016

Sharing Cost-Effectiveness Results
In October, OptTEST partner Yazdan Yazdanpanah presented preliminary data on the cost-effectiveness analysis of testing strategies in  a multi-stakeholder meeting convened by the Haute Autorité de la Santé (HAS) as part of the French testing guidelines review process. Participants to the meeting included patients and civil society organisations, epidemiologists and health economists. The analysis for France indicates the cost-effectivness of testing groups at risk every 3 to 6 months and once in a lifetime for the general population. The revised testing recommendation should be published in December. The results of OptTEST research on cost-effectiveness analysis of testing strategies for Estonia, France and Spain will be presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in February 2017 in Seattle, USA.
A similar national level meeting was held in Spain in October with national stekholders and decsion-makers and in Estonia a meeting is planned for the 19th December.  


OptTEST at ILGA conference

Lisa Power made a presentation about “Removing barriers to HIV care and prevention in the LGTBI community/ removing barriers” at a workshop at the ILGA annual conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, 19-22 October 2016. At the event, participants were first given an overview of LGBTI involvement in HIV work over the past 30 years. After a brief presentation of the outcomes of ILGA-Europe’s membership survey on HIV-STIs, participants looked at examples from the OptTEST project's research and case studies. They heard about a range of existing LGBTI involvement in HIV prevention and support, examined legal barriers hindering LGBTI people in accessing sexual health services and considered the role of stigma in deterring LGBTI people from testing and getting support. The short presentations were followed by work in groups on ways for LGBTI activists to get more involved in sexual health work. in their local context. These ranged from participation in European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week through to checkpoints, challenging stigma and other practical responses appropriate to them. Feedback from the workshop has been positive.

MeSH symposium in Tallinn 

Liis Lemsalu presented the methodology of her and Kristi Rüütel’s recent study at the the MeSH (Measurement and Surveillance of HIV Epidemics) scientific symposium in Tallinn, Estonia on 26-27 October 2016. The presentation mentioned OptTEST and underlined how extracting data for the cost-effectiveness analysis of testing strategies had led to the idea of a new registry-based study which will help fill gaps in monitoring the HIV epidemic in Estonia. The event brought together experts from around the world in the field of routine HIV measurement and surveillance to identify and discuss innovative and efficient methods to move us towards and beyond 2020. 

OptTEST at Glasgow 

OptTEST Steering Committee met during the HIV Drug Therapy conference in Glasgow 24-26 October 2016 to discuss work progress and outcomes. The work on Legal and regulatory barriers to HIV testing was presented in a poster by Lisa Power, who explains the contend and objectives of the work in this video clip.

Continuum of Care meeting in Poland

Clinician Justyna Kowalska engaged in the OptTEST work on Indicator Condition guided HIV testing had organized the 1st Continuum of Care meeting 14-15 October 2016 in Warsaw, Poland. At the meeting national leading experts, as well as international guests, met and discussed the Continuum of Care cascade as a public health tool and how to improve data collection in Poland.   


OptTEST at the Civil Society Forum 

Julian Hows (GNP+) presented the OptTEST work on Legal and regulatory barriers to HIV testing at the Civil Society Forum meeting in Luxembourg 10-11 October 2016. The group was very interested in the new database and Julian encouraged everybody to verify their own country data and provide feedback if required.  

September 2016

Linkage to care meeting Athens 

This meeting is a first in a series of national stakeholders' meetings where OptTEST's work on Linkage to Care (WP4) is presented and discussed with national experts, clinicians, surveillance people and community groups.n In Athens the meeting was hosted by Greek CDC (KEELPNO). 


August 2016 

Strategies to reduce late diagnosis 

Ann Sullivan, lead of OptTEST's work on Indicator Condition-guided HIV testing, is interviewed in the July EUROBulletin and eFeature isssued by OptTEST partner MEDFASH. In the interview Ann reflects on the changing direction of HIV testing approaches and discusses opportunities for normalising HIV testing and using community and indicator condition-guided testing strategies to reduce late diagnosis. She concludes that "indicator condition-guided testing, with adequate monitoring and evaluation, is likely to be an effective strategy. It is opportunistic (patients are often already having a blood test done), pre-test discussion time can be minimised and the opportunity cost of spending time collecting samples for HIV testing alone is reduced. It is a cost-effective way to identify undiagnosed HIV infection in all population groups, whether at high risk or not, and can complement approaches targeting those most at risk. Indicator condition-guided testing is effective and it wins on all levels". You can read the full interview here 

July 2016 

OptTEST at Durban 
OptTEST contributed to the global and European discussion about innovative and effective HIV testing strategies and linkage to care at the AIDS2016 Conference in Durban, South Africa. OptTEST partners EATG and GNP+ were present at the European Networking Zone where some of OptTEST's current results and on-going work were discussed. There is consensus that at all levels (local, national, regional) it is essential to better target access to testing to key affected populations in programmes and to remove stigma, legal and regulatory barriers that prevent affected persons to come forward. A lot more has to be done to ensure that access for all is a reality – and we will not achieve this if we continue to do ‘business as usual’.
Read the full press release here
July 2016 

New Legal Barriers Database  

A new searchable database developed by OptTEST partner GNP+ and consultant Lisa Power shows the most common legal and regulatory barriers to HIV testing, linkage to care and treatment access across Europe and in each individual European country, including how they affect particular key populations. The data stems from an online survey answered by 78 respondents covering 2/3 of the 53 WHO European countries. The data will be updated and coverage improved based on feedback from the users. Lisa Power who is working on legal and regulatory barriers added, "We talk about increasing testing, yet we make it hard for people to do so by surrounding it with laws and regulations that deter innovation and discourage those at greatest risk from coming forward. We have to change this if we are to make a difference". The database can be found here


April 2016

Conference on HIV testing above the age of 50 

OptTESt partner EATG runs the Ageing with HIV - A Lifecycle Approach project about growing up and growing old with HIV. The project started in December 2015 and lasts for 30 months. The conference “New Challenges and Unmet Needs of People Living With HIV/AIDS Aged 50+” was organised in Berlin between 31 March and 3 April 2016. More than 70 participants, scientists, medical professionals, regulators and patient experts participated. Read more here.  

March 2016

Meeting of the ECDC STI and HIV Networks 

Sara Croxford, Public Health England, presented OptTEST WP4 work with focus on the analysis made on the feasibility of using the HIV TESSy dataset (case-based reporting of all new diagnoses made in the WHO European Region) to monitor linkage to care in Europe. Read more here. 

January 2016 

ECDC Expert meeting on HIV testing 

WP5 lead Ann Sullivan presented recently published results on IC guided HIV testing at the Expert meeting: Evaluation of ECDC HIV Testing Guidance in the EU/EEA, Stockholm 28-29 January 2016. Ann presented work from OptTEST Work Package 5 on developing tools and implementing quality interventions to increase the offer of HIV testing to patients diagnosed with ICs. See meeting report here.

European HIV Prevention Summit

Lisa Power presenting what works and what doesn't work in testing in Europe based on her work done for OptTEST by HiE at the European HIV Prevention Summit organised by AVAC and the European AIDS Treatment Group.  Find her presentation here. 

October 2015


As a side-meeting to EACS OptTEST SC held a face-to-face meeting 21 October. A Modelling Expert meeting on “Cost-effectiveness of HIV testing strategies in priority groups and regions” was also held 22 October at the conference venue.

5 OptTEST poster presentations were displayed in Exhibition Area  and OptTEST was present at the EATG booth with posters, pamphlets and publications. 

September 2015 

Linkage to care consensus definition 

OptTEST WP4 was discussed at an ECDC Expert Meeting in Stockholm on Optimising Analysing of the HIV Continuum of Care in Europe. 


July 2015

The AIDS Impact

The AIDS Impact

is an international behavioral and psychosocial science conference that addresses issues related to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, focusing both globally and on specific communities and countries hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Conference took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from July 28 to 31, 2015.

OptTEST was one of the nine projects funded by the European Commission presented at CHAFEA Health Programme symposium “Doing the right things right – Guidance, Standards and Quality in the European response to HIV and co-infections”.  The symposium was co-hosted by AIDS Action Europe together with Quality Action and Euro Health Net. 

Each project had the opportunity to present ‘snapshots' addressing the project need, central approach, methodology and main results/products to date of the project. Ann Sullivan presented the OptTEST project (see presentation here).

At the 'fishbowl' discussion the participants engaged in a discussion on how can EU projects  through products such as guidance, standards and quality tools, increase effectiveness, tackle stigma and discrimination, increase access to testing, prevention and treatment and keep HIV/AIDS and co-infections high on the political and health agendas at the European, national and local levels. 

During the conference OptTEST information materials were also disseminated at the World Café at the Chafea stand. This allowed to introduce the project to the wider audience attending the conference and provided a good opportunity for networking.


March 2015

First annual meeting

On 29 May 2015 the first annual meeting for the OptTEST project was held in Tallinn, Estonia. 

One year into the three year-project period the first annual meeting provided an opportunity for project partners to meet face to face. Advisory Board and collaborating partners were invited to participate – some participated in person other via video conference.

On the agenda were updates from the work packages on completed and upcoming tasks and milestones, in particular status on baseline data, as well as a budget and reporting status from the coordinating center. There was also discussions of cross cutting issues such as how to secure sustainability in project outcome, e.g. in relation to usage of tools and guidelines. 

September 2014

OptTEST Kick-off meeting

September 2nd 2014 was the date for the official Kick-off meeting of the OptTEST project “Optimising testing and linkage to care for HIV across Europe”, co-funded by the 2nd Health Programme of the European Union. This is a three-year project with the overarching objective to reduce the number of undiagnosed people with HIV infection and newly diagnosed late presenters within the European Region, and to promote timely treatment and care.

The project will provide tools, guidelines and assessment methods to analyse and effectively respond to late presentation for HIV care and treatment, with strong emphasis on the most effected regions and groups. Comparisons will be made between regions of Europe with different epidemics, healthcare structures, HIV testing policies and HIV-related stigmatization and criminalization issues.

The Partners met for a workshop on the 1st September to discuss the four core work packages on: Linkage to and retention in HIV care; Development and Implementation of tools and strategies for indicator condition guided testing; The cost-effectiveness of HIV testing strategies in priority groups and regions; Stigma and legal barriers to provision and uptake of HIV testing services.

During the Kick-off meeting on the 2nd, members of the OptTEST Advisory Board were present, alongside representatives from the European Commission. The work packages were presented by their Leads and were discussed in turn, with valuable input from all attendees. The meeting generated many fruitful discussions and was considered a successful and productive start to the OptTEST project.