COBATEST is glad to announce first elections for the Steering Committee members which will begin their governance starting January 1st, 2022.

We want to extend thank you to current temporary Steering Committee members Lella Cosmaro (Lila Milano, Italy),  Sebastian Meyer (StopSida, Spain), Christos Krasidis (ASM, Cyprus), Daniel Simões (GAT, Portugal), and Andrii Chernyshev (Alliance Global, Ukraine). They all worked very hard during past 2 years to develop governance documents for the network in order to ensure smooth and democratic processes within the network.

All members of the network are highly encouraged to send in their candidacy (from September 20th to October 17th) to become new members of the Steering Committee and of course to vote during the elections (from November 11th to November 25th). You can find eligibility criteria and other details about the elections in the Call for Applications document and the Elections Announcement document. Active participation from the members is very important part of forming successful network! 

First half of COBATEST members annual meeting took place December 3rd 2020, where the 2019 Report was launched. You can view the report and minutes of the meeting online. Second half of COBATEST meeting took place June 18 2021, where the members discussed community service provision in times of the COVID pandemic. You can view the minutes of the meeting online. Both meetings took place online due to the pandemic.

A presentation made by Dr.Laura Fernàndez-López was granted Best Poster Awards at HepHIV conference. The work presented by Dr.Fernàndez-López was based on an article lead by EuroTEST and developed with join effort of COBATEST and other international organizations representing the community. The study investigated impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on testing services for HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections in the WHO European Region, March to August 2020, based on the survey assessment developed by the partners and implemented in the participating regions. Please see full article online.

The HepHIV conference took place 5-7 May 2021 in an online format. Dr.Megi Gogishvili presented two abstracts based on the descriptive data collected by COBATEST network.

A poster was presented with descriptive data on Community-Based Voluntary Counseling and Testing for HIV, Sífilis and HCV in Europe based on data collected by COBATEST network members. Testing data presented was collected by 50 CBVCT services in 19 countries during the period of 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019, using the COBATEST standardized data reporting tools. Members reported total of 129,484  clients tested for HIV, 29,471 for Hepatitis and 28,747 for syphilis. The percentage of reactive HIV tests among members varied from 0.0% to 6.2%, with an average of 1.1%. Proportion of tests performed among population groups demonstrated need for CBVCT centers to scale-up access to HIV testing for SW and PWIDs and help them be aware of their infection status and further link them to proper care and treatment. Please find full presentation online.

A presentation was conducted on Evolution of key indicators for Community-Based Voluntary Counseling and Testing activity in Europe based on data collected by COBATEST Network during three consecutive years. From 2017 to 2019thirty-eight (2017) to fifty centers (2019) reported data using the COBATEST standardized data reporting tools. Members reported total of 371,227 clients tested for HIV, 45,399 for Hepatitis and 53,395 for syphilis. The percentage of reactive HIV tests across the years varied from 1.1% (2018 and 2019) to 1.3% (2017), with 1.2% for total population tested during the three years. Proportion of tests performed among population groups demonstrated that there are still gaps in testing, especially among transgender people and PWID. Further comprehensive research is needed to understand testing behavior of these groups so that CBVCTs can improve strategies tailored towards these clients. Please find full presentation online.

The COBATEST network is glad to announce upcoming collaboration with EuroTEST and with many other international organizations in a research led by EuroTEST on the impact of COVID-19 on the groups vulnerable to HIV and other STIs. Specifically, the study plans to learn impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on testing services for HIV, viral hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections in the WHO European region from March 2020 to August 2020. The data will be collected using online survey assessment.

A utility evaluation of SD BIOLINE HIV/Syphilis Duo (Alere) and DPP® HIV-Syphilis Assay (Chembio) for the screening of HIV & syphilis in men who have sex with men will take place in the non-clinical settings of four COBATEST Network members (Gais Positius Barcelona, Legebitra Ljubljana, Baltic HIV Association, Alliance Global Kiev) and one associated member (HF Prévention Paris). Read the protocol.

Four of five sites have already begun recruitment and last week Laura Fernández from CEEISCAT visited three of the sites with representatives from the WHO to complete follow-up. The preliminary results are due to be ready by the end of 2019

The COBATEST Network Steering Committee convened for the first time on the 19 November, coinciding with the meeting to launch the new COBATEST Network and AIDS Action Europe collaboration. The committee consists of community actors Lella Cosmaro (Lila Milano) Daniel Simoes (GAT Portugal) Sebastian Meyer (DEVO Network) and Andrey Chernyshev (Alliance Global Ukraine), AIDS Action Europe representatives Michael Krone and Christos Krasidis and CEEISCAT representatives Laura Fernandez and Jordi Casabona. The minutes from the meeting are available here.

On the 14-15 May 2018, the COBATEST Network members’ meeting was held in Barcelona and the 2017 report was launched. It was a great opportunity for members to meet eachother and share experiences of using the COBATEST data collection tool as well as their services, especially in the areas of PrEP and ChemSex.

See what we discussed in the summary and the presentations below –

Introduction – Joan Colom, Public Health Agency of Catalonia (ASPCat)
European Testing Week – Lauren Combs, CHIP
Community Testing in Europe: WHO Objectives – Elena Vovc, WHO Regional Office for Europe
Past, Present and Future: The COBATEST Network – Jordi Casabona, CEEISCAT
Results from the COBATEST Network 2017 – Anna Conway, CEEISCAT
WHO study of Combined PoC Tests in CBVCTs – Laura Fernàndez López, CEEISCAT
COBA-Cohort – Nicolas Lorente, CEEISCAT
Quality Assessment of data in the COBATEST Network – Juliana Reyes Ureña, CEEISCAT
Rede de Rastreio, A National CBVCT Network – Paula Meireles, ISPUP

PrEP Services
Alliance Global – Andriy Radetsky
Checkpoint LX – Miguel Rocha
Czech AIDS Help Society – Ivo Procházka
Deutsche AIDS Hilfe – Michael Tappe
AthCheckpoint Greece – Sophocles Chanos

ChemSex Services
Alliance Global – Andriy Radetsky
StopSIDA – Luis Villegas
AthCheckpoint Greece – Sophocles Chanos