In 2022-2023 AIDS Action Europe (AAE), Centre for Epidemiological Studies of Sexually Transmitted Disease and AIDS in Catalonia (CEEISCAT), and the Milanese unit of the Italian League for Fighting AIDS (LILA Milano) have joined forces in the framework of the COBATEST Network and implemented the project Community Led and Based HIV Services - Key to Ending the HIV Epidemic in Europe and Central Asia. The aim of the project was to increase, adapt, and improve community based testing services for HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and other sexually-transmitted infections in Europe and Central Asia, focusing on those populations where diagnosis and linkage to care are lower than the national average. To reach the aims of the project partners focused on sharing new approaches and good practices, strengthening the capacities of COBATEST Network members, as well as harmonizing monitoring and evaluation procedures.
The project ran for 20 months from January 2022 to August 2023. The 3 work packages within the project conducted the following activities:
- An assessment on legal and policy barriers to community led and based testing services and to self-testing and other innovative approaches among COBATEST Network members
- Development of policy recommendations and good practice based on the assessment of legal and policy barriers
- Improvement and consolidation processes of data collection with the COBATEST Network
- Assessment of feasibility and acceptability of innovative testing methods (e.g. self-testing) among COBATEST Network members and the communities they are working with
- A pilot campaign project to raise awareness to and improve the acceptability of HIV self-testing in Italy
- Provision of support for 6 members of the COBATEST network from the countries - based on the assessment of barriers - where the environment is the most complicated and where communities will benefit most from improved CBVCT services.