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New Approach on HIV Viral Load Testing

10 June 2015

GENEVA - Framework agreements will be established between the Global Fund and seven diagnostic manufacturers which aim to make the market for HIV viral load testing more transparent and competitive, driving cost reductions of up to one third.

The agreements should deliver net savings of at least US$30 million over three years to the Global Fund, and potentially much more.

Viral load testing is critical to providing appropriate treatment for HIV positive adults and also identifying infants who may be HIV positive. However, the price paid to conduct the tests has varied widely, sometimes reaching heights of US$85 per test.

The new agreements between the Global Fund and the seven manufacturers provide clarity on prices, aiming for an all-inclusive price as low as US$15, including equipment and other costs such as consumables, maintenance and shipping. It establishes benchmarks at which the Global Fund's implementing partners can expect to purchase. These partners include government health departments, community health clinics and medical centres.

While pricing for new diagnostic equipment will be more transparent and reliable, the agreements also aim to expand the use of existing equipment, by providing better benchmark prices for maintenance and servicing.

"These agreements should drive savings of up to one third for Global Fund partners, allowing them to redeploy those savings into expanded viral load testing," said Christopher Game, Chief Procurement Officer at the Global Fund. "It should also foster competition and motivate suppliers to provide added benefits such as remote monitoring, better training of clinical staff and improved laboratory design."

The seven manufacturers are Abbott, Alere, bioMérieux, Cepheid, Hologic, QIAGEN and Roche. Each has been through a technical and commercial evaluation before being added to the panel of suppliers. The agreements initially last three years. Other public health funders and agencies will also be able to enter into agreements based on the benchmark prices negotiated.

Today's announcement builds on the HIV Diagnostic Access Program agreed last September, which was co-ordinated by UNAIDS and included Roche and the Government of South Africa, World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Society for Laboratory Medicine, UNITAID, the Global Fund, PEPFAR, Clinton Health Access Initiative and UNICEF.

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