The AidsImpact conference took place from June 12th to 15th, 2023 in Stockholm, Sweden. Two abstracts were presented by COBATEST network at the conference.

Dr.Megi Gogishvili presented an abstract based on the quantitative and qualitative data collected through an online questionnaire from EECA members of COBATEST network, ECOM, AFEW, and Aids Action Europe in 2022. 

A presentation was conducted on the results of an assessment of operational and structural realities and obstacles encountered by CBVCTs in EECA during HIV/STI testing and data collection. The data was based on the assessment of 20 CBVCTS, 8 from Eastern European countries and 3 from Central Asian countries. Majority of CBVCTs (14/20) depended primary on international grants and only few (2/20) operated mainly on a local governmental funds. Target testing population of majority of the CBVCTs were MSM (15/20), PWIDs (13/20), and SW (12/20). While 13 of CBVCTs provided assistance on how to navigate national health systems, only 1 provided legal counselling. All CBVCTs tested for HIV, 17 of them on HCV, 13 on HBV, and only 3 on Syphilis. Only 5 CBVCTs could perform confirmatory tests in their centers. Fifteen CBVCTs provided self-testing kits, however only 2 always received results of the testing. All participating CBVCTs collected data, 14/20 utilized both online and offline tool. Data is mostly collected for donor reporting purposes. However, interest was shown in being able to utilize collected data for improving services provided, informing future projects, and publishing articles. Primary themes identified in challenges named while testing and collecting data were: lack of funding (for personnel, tests), confidentiality and stigma, and political environment of the countries (restrictive laws, war). Please find full presentation online.

Dr.Laura Fernandez Lopez presented an abstract based on quantitative data collected by COBATEST network members from 2013 to 2022.

A presentation was conducted on a key population belonging and HIV associated factors among 60 European community-led testing centers from COBATEST network. 73,799 HIV tested people were included in the cross-sectional study, of whom 65.3% (n=48,168) belonged to some key population. HIV reactive testing general prevalence was 1.68% (CI:1.59-1.78), while in key population was 2.41% (CI:2.27-2.55) and 0.31% (CI:0.25-0.38) in non-key population. In the multivariate analysis in key population group, being younger (aOR=0.99; CI:0.986-0.999), a man (aOR=6.05; CI:4.44-8.24) or a transgender (aOR=10.02; CI:7.07-14.20), being migrant from abroad the UE (aOR=1.76; CI:1.52-2.04), less condomless penetration during last sexual intercourse (aOR=1.36; CI:1.19-1.55), previous STI during last 12 months (aOR=1.41; CI:1.17-1.71) and doing sexual work (aOR=1.56; CI:1.27-1.91) were significantly associated with HIV reactive testing. In contrast, in non-key population, associated factors to HIV reactive testing were being older (aOR=1.03; CI:1.02-1.05) and a man (aOR=1.93; CI:1.17-3.19). Please find full presentation online

The biannual meeting of Steering Committee of the COBATEST Network was held on June 8th and 9th, 2023 in Berlin, Germany, on the campus of AIDS Action Europe. Great and productive discussions took place on updating data collection form, future planning for the network, and brainstorming for next COBATEST members annual meeting.

COBATEST network takes part in Boost project 2023-2025, funded by the European Commission’s Action grant, together with 45 participants from more than 20 organizations. The kick-off meeting of the project was held in Rome, Italy, on February 13 and 14, 2023. As part of the project, COBATEST will assist with improvement of HIV/HCV/STIs testing data collection among harm reduction services across Europe.

COBATEST Network takes part in CORE project (Community Response to End Inequalities) 2023-2025, funded by the European Commission’s Action grant, alongside with participants from 20 other organizations. The kick-off meeting of the project was held in Berlin, Germany, on January 30th, 2023. COBATEST will assist community organisations to improve monitoring of testing and linkage to care for HIV/STI/ TB/VH.

COBATEST Network was present in the 2022 version of EECA Interact, a scientific workshop on HIV, Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Dr. Megi Gogishvili presented the progress of data from COBATEST EECA members. Data shows that there is big gap between HIV testing among MSM and other vulnerable groups in EECA, specifically among transgender people, PWID, and SW. Low percentage of persons tested during past 12 months and high proportion of reactive test results indicates need of increase in testing outreach programs in EECA. Overall, increase in participation from EECA members has been found in COBATEST network, but data submission is not consistent throughout 5 years. Please find full presentation online.

The first in-person COBATEST annual meeting after COVID-19 took place on November 15th and 16th, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. This meeting was COBATEST’s biggest gathering, where 70 members of the network attended. Besides launching of 2021 COBATEST report, the members discussed migration, community based services, and the role of COBATEST Network in assisting CBVCTs. You can view the minutes of the meeting here. Presentations of the meeting are uploaded here.

COBATEST meeting presentations:

The first face-to-face meeting of the first elected Steering Committee of the COBATEST Network was held on November 14th and 15th, 2022 in Badalona, Spain, on the campus of CEEISCAT. Great and productive discussions took place while getting ready for the COBATEST members annual meeting on November 15th and 16th in Barcelona, Spain.

The EUSTI Georgia conference took place 29 September to 1st of  October 2022 in an hybrid format. Dr.Megi Gogishvili presented an abstract based on the descriptive data collected by COBATEST network in 2019 and 2020.

A presentation was conducted on Comparison of HIV testing performed pre and during COVID-19 at Community-Based Testing Centers in Europe based on data collected by COBATEST Network during 2019 and 2020. From 2019 to 2020, forty centers from 15 European countries reported data on HIV testing in both years using the COBATEST standardized data reporting tools. In total 111,117 persons were tested for HIV by forty centers in 2019, and in 2020 the same 40 centers reported 70084 (36.9% less) persons tested. Most of the centers demonstrated substantial decrease in persons tested ranging from 30% to 60% compared to 2019. Three centers had reported more than 60% decrease in HIV testing in 2020 compared to 2019. Minor increase was found in 4 centers and one center reported substantial increase. Overall, drastic change in proportion of persons tested for HIV in 2019 compared to 2020 has been found. The difference could be attributed to availability of these services during lockdowns and also to restrictions imposed by governments on free movement across the cities/towns/countries due to COVID-19 pandemic. However, this data should be interpreted cautiously as no specific data has been collected on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in these 40 centers. Please find full presentation online.

The COBATEST members annual meeting took place December 15th 2021, where the 2020 Report was launched. The meeting took place online due to the pandemic and 38 members attended it. The members discussed the role of mental health in CBVCT services, and ChemSex services provided by the community testing centers. You can view the minutes of the meeting here.

The Sign-up for the new European Test Finder is now live!

Why should you sign up? This website enables people to easily identify nearest centers to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, and STIs, in all WHO European countries (please see list of countries included here). The sign-up is free and puts you on the map, which allows users to locate all testing sites available to them.

Make sure your testing site is included! Find out more in the European Test Finder’s newsletter.

Important note: Please keep in mind that even if your center was registered in previous version of the website, information will NOT be transferred to the new website. It is important you register again in the new European Test Finder.