As part of its contribution to the MenStar Coalition, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) has announced an investment of US$ 25 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS dedicated to scaling HIV self-testing.
Countries, including Uganda, will be able to apply for a portion of the funds to support self-testing.
CIFF announced the contribution at the Global Fund Replenishment Summit held in Lyon France.
Miles Kemplay, Executive Director for Adolescence at CIFF said, “CIFF is championing HIV self-testing and other methods to promote self-care as one of the most powerful ways for youth, women and men to take control of their sexual & reproductive health.
“People deserve the choice to test when they want, where they want and how they want. As such, we want to raise awareness of the investment and encourage Sub-Sahara governments to apply.”
CIFF believes the impact of self-testing may be greatest in Sub-Sahara Africa, which has the largest number of people living with HIV who do not know their status.
In Uganda, there are 1.4 million people living with HIV, with women and young women, in particular, being disproportionately affected. In addition, there were 53,000 new infections in 2018.
While there have been increased efforts to scale up treatment initiatives, there are still many people living with HIV who not only do not have access to the medicines but also struggle with the stigma associated with the disease.
Improving the uptake of HIV self-testing among individuals who require confidentiality or who do not trust healthcare workers is therefore imperative.
The CIFF – Global Fund partnership is designed to increase funding for country programs that have ambitious HIV self-testing goals as well as put supportive policies in place for people to easily access self-tests.
Peter Sands the Executive Director of the Global Fund said, “We applaud CIFF’s investment as there is an urgent need to engage people who would not normally test in traditional settings. Self-testing is innovative and seeks to break the cycle of HIV transmission, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
“By accelerating access to HIV self-testing, we can get closer to controlling HIV as a public health threat. More people will know their status so that those with HIV can start treatment while those who are negative can access prevention services.”
This investment will contribute significantly to scaling up the pioneering progress of the Unitaid-funded Self-Testing in Africa (STAR) Initiative and was supported through a partnership with the World Health Organization which, in addition to developing normative and implementation guidance on HIV self-testing, produced country-specific investment cases to guide and optimize partner investments.
Dr Ren Minghui, Assistant Director-General, WHO stated: “HIV self-testing is an innovative tool that enables people to take initiative, empowering them to find out their HIV status without delay.
“WHO commends our partners, CIFF and the Global Fund for making this major new investment today. This will help millions of more people to access HIV self-testing through national programmes.”
CIFF is increasing its commitment to promoting self-testing under the MenStar Coalition, which was launched at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam with the goal to place an additional one million men on treatment, protecting their health and that of their partners:
“It’s crucial that we reach young men in discreet ways to break the cycle of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. We launched the MenStar Coalition with the Duke of Sussex last year and one of our pioneer initiatives in collaboration with CIFF, Unitaid is a self-testing campaign in Kenya so more men can find out their status.
“We are proud to call CIFF a partner and today, I want to congratulate them on their increased contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.”, Sir Elton John, musician and founder of Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Beyond its support to the Global Fund, CIFF continues to invest in lowering the cost of self-tests, testing alternative distribution channels and funding education and promotional activities in partnership with the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Unitaid.
This contribution is CIFF’s latest milestone in its broader effort to increase young people’s access to healthcare services.