Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

In this section you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week. If you have a question which hasn’t been addressed here then please contact us.

Where can I get tested?

Access to HIV and/or hepatitis testing varies from country to country, however, HIV and/or hepatitis 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 organisations or charities
  • Some General Practitioner surgeries
  • Some contraception and young people’s clinics
  • Local drugs agencies
  • Antenatal clinics, if you are pregnant
  • Private clinics

To find an HIV testing centre near you visit the HIV test finder on the NAM website at: http://www.aidsmap.com/hiv-test-finder.

To find a hepatitis testing centre near you, search the directory on the InfoHep website: http://www.infohep.org/services.

What is testing week?

Testing week is an initiative that was launched by HIV in Europe in 2013 to encourage large numbers of people to become aware of their HIV status. Now in its fifth year, and the third time hepatitis testing has been included, European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week will take place from 17-24 November 2017.

The week offers partners across Europe the opportunity to unite to increase awareness regarding the benefits of HIV and hepatitis testing, so that more people become knowledgeable about their risks, understand that there is effective treatment available and are aware of their HIV and/or hepatitis status.

The week offers partners across Europe the opportunity to unite to increase awareness regarding the benefits of HIV and hepatitis testing, so that more people become knowledgeable about their risks, understand that there is effective treatment available and are aware of their HIV and/or hepatitis status.

More than 500 organisations took part in testing week last year and thousands more people are now aware of their HIV and/or hepatitis status. Through united efforts, we hope that testing week 2017 is an even greater success.

What are the aims of testing week?

The ultimate goal of European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week is to make more people aware of their HIV and/or hepatitis status and reduce late diagnosis by communicating the benefits of testing. 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 a test
  • Encourage healthcare professionals to offer an HIV or hepatitis test as part of routine care in specific settings and conditions (in line with present European guidelines)
  • Support and unite community organisations to scale up 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
  • Help end the HIV and hepatitis epidemics by preventing onward transmission to others through early diagnosis and treatment

Why is testing week needed?

Unmet need in HIV
Today, it is estimated that at least one in three of the 2.5 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. This means that many people are not being tested prior to symptoms emerging. This could be because there are barriers to requesting an HIV test, barriers to offering HIV tests, or barriers to the implementation of European HIV testing guidelines. This is despite the benefits of early HIV diagnosis and early access to treatment being well-documented. These statistics suggest that we need to be doing more to encourage individuals, who are unknowingly living with HIV, to take an HIV test and to better target people who could have been at risk for testing.

Unmet need in hepatitis
Hepatitis B and C are common among people at risk of and living with HIV. It is estimated that around 13.3 million people are living with hepatitis B in the WHO European Region; approximately 15–40% of those will develop cirrhosis, liver failure or hepatocellular carcinoma. 15 million people in the WHO European Region are living with hepatitis C; however, the majority of people with hepatitis C remain undiagnosed and only a small minority in Europe (3.5%) receive treatment. By encouraging people to become aware of their hepatitis status as soon as possible, people with hepatitis B can live healthily for a long a time with early treatment, and those with hepatitis C can be cured.

We hope that testing week provides you with a valuable platform to help promote and increase HIV and hepatitis testing.

 

Why is HIV and hepatitis testing important?

It’s better for people at risk of HIV and/ or hepatitis to know their status as soon as possible, because today people living with HIV and/or hepatitis can live healthily for a long time with early treatment, 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.

Who is testing week for?

Testing week is relying on three core groups of partners to help ensure it achieves its aim: government bodies, healthcare professionals and 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 promote HIV and hepatitis testing and timely access to treatment as a national priority.

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
  • Transgender

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 runs testing week in close collaboration with the European HIV-Hepatitis 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.

European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week Working Group comprises representatives from the following organisations:

  • AAE (AIDS Action Europe)
  • AHF Europe (AIDS Healthcare Foundation Europe)
  • EACS (European AIDS Clinical Society)
  • EATG (European AIDS Treatment Group)
  • ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control)
  • ECUO (East Europe & Central Asia Union of PLHIV)
  • GAT (Grupo Português de Ativistas sobre Tratamentos de VIH/SIDA (Portuguese Group of activists on HIV/AIDS treatments))
  • IGLYO
  • Iskorak
  • HIV in Europe
  • PHE (Public Health England)
  • THT (Terrence Higgins Trust)
  • Correlation Network

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

How is the impact of the European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week evaluated?

HIV in Europe will be working closely with those who take part to evaluate the success of European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week. The evaluation will focus on how valuable the testing week platform and associated materials are in helping scale up access to testing at a local level. This evaluation will be based on testing statistics and feedback from implementing partners.

For more information about how European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week 2017 is being evaluated see Toolkit 2 - Testing week implementation handbook.

The results of the testing week evaluation will be available on the website to be shared with those organisations who have signed-up to participate in testing week activities and other interested parties. For further information on the evaluation of testing week 2013-2016, visit the HIV in Europe website.

What does signing-up to the European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week mean? Is there a minimum expectation?

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

Helping to ensure more people become aware of their HIV and/or hepatitis status can only happen with the support of partners like you. There is no minimum requirement for those who sign-up to the testing week and it is entirely up to you to choose whether your local campaign will target HIV or hepatitis communities, or both, during testing week. There are lots of ideas for how you can get involved in the Get involved section of the site.

Having signed-up to testing week, you may wish to:

  • Host testing week events/activities
  • Raise awareness amongst key populations regarding the importance of HIV and/or hepatitis testing
  • Lobby government bodies around the importance of improved access to HIV and/or hepatitis testing
  • Recruit other organisations to sign-up
  • Help to create a list of places in your country where individuals can access free, confidential and voluntary HIV and/or hepatitis tests

We will also ask implementing organisations to help support the evaluation of testing week, as explained in Toolkit 2 – Testing week implementation handbook.

Who can sign-up to European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week?

Testing week is aimed at all civil society organisations, healthcare professionals and their organisations, testing programme managers, governmental institutions and government bodies across Europe.

Please sign-up if you are:

  • Part of an organisation that wants to participate in testing week
  • Part of a healthcare professional association/hospital/clinic that wants to participate in testing week
  • A policy organisation that wants to participate in testing week

Can I sign up if my organisation is only able to offer HIV or hepatitis testing?

Yes – you may sign up if your organisation is only able to offer testing for HIV or hepatitis. It may be useful to partner with other local organisations, if possible, in order to offer testing services for both HIV and hepatitis, although this is not essential. It is also not essential to offer tests as part of testing week – arranging other activities that raise awareness of education are just as important.

I have signed-up but my organisation name is not yet listed on the website.

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.

Is there any funding available to support participating partners?

Unfortunately, HIV in Europe is not in a position to offer any direct financial support to participating partners. Instead, HIV in Europe 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 and hepatitis testing. These can be found in the HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week materials section of the website. There is also a fundraising toolkit available which provides ideas and guidance.

My country isn’t in Europe – can I still take part?

The 2017 testing week 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.

I don’t belong to a hepatitis, HIV or healthcare organisation but I want to show my personal support for testing week – what can I do?

If you would like to support European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week you may wish to contact organisations taking part in your country and ask them if they need support from volunteers.

You can also find out about testing week activities by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

What does it mean to endorse testing week?

By endorsing testing week you are making a public statement that you back testing week’s aim to increase the proportion of people who are aware of their HIV and/or hepatitis status.

If you agree to endorse testing week, your logo will appear on our website, contributing to the credibility of testing week and our aims.

European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week has been endorsed by a number of pan-European organisations. If you are a member of a pan-European organisation and would like to endorse testing week please get in touch. For further information please email HIV in Europe at: hie.rigshospitalet@regionh.dk. See the full list of endorsing organisations»

What materials are available to support testing week activities?

Please visit Get involved for a full list of testing week 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.

Can I change the testing week logo and edit the materials for my use?

We ask that you do not change the testing week logo so that we can ensure a distinctive and consistent brand across materials associated with European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week. 

The materials, however, are designed to support your local needs, so please feel free to adapt them for your use. Guidance on how to do this is contained in the relevant toolkits.

What steps are in place to ensure individuals who tested positive during the testing week have access to care?

Unfortunately not all countries implement a policy of ensuring timely access to free care and treatment for those who test positive for HIV and/or hepatitis. So as part of European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week, we are supporting implementing partners in ongoing efforts to lobby government bodies to employ healthcare policies that meet European guidelines, including access to treatment.

Testing week endorses the following key guidelines on HIV and hepatitis testing and treatment:

  1. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. HIV testing: Increasing uptake and effectiveness in the European Union, 2010.
  2. World Health Organization. Scaling up HIV testing and counselling in the WHO European Region - as an essential component of efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Policy framework, 2010.
  3. World Health Organization. Guidance on provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling in health facilities, 2007.
  4. World Health Organization/UNAIDS. Guidance on testing and counselling for HIV in settings attended by people who inject drugs. Improving access to treatment, care and prevention, 2009.
  5. World Health Organisation. Guidance on couples HIV testing and counselling - including antiretroviral therapy for treatment and prevention in serodiscordant couples, 2012.
  6. World Health Organisation. Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection, 2013.
  7. UNAIDS. Treatment 2015. 2012
  8. UNODC, UNAIDS, WHO; HIV testing and counselling in prisons and other closed settings. Technical paper, 2009.
  9. EACS. European Guidelines for treatment of HIV infected adults in Europe, 2013.
  10. EMCDDA; Guidelines for testing HIV, viral hepatitis and other infections in injecting drug users, 2010.
  11. HIV in Europe. HIV Indicator Conditions: Guidance for implementing HIV testing in adults in Health Care Settings, 2012.
  12. The EASL guidelines; Management of hepatitis C virus infection – revised version, 2015
  13. World Health Organization. Consolidated guidelines on HIV testing services, 2015.
  14. World Health Organization. Guidelines for the screening, care and treatment of persons with hepatitis C infection, 2014.
  15. World Health Organization. Guidelines for the prevention, care and treatment of persons with chronic hepatitis B infection, 2015.

Further materials and literature can be found on the HIV in Europe website.