The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and Project HOPE are the recipients of 2,000 HIV rapid detection test kits that will be distributed among members of a new stigma-free network of HIV/AIDS service providers in the Mexico City metropolitan area to promote timely diagnosis of HIV and prevent unknowingly infecting others.
With 20 million inhabitants, the Mexico City metropolitan area is one of the most populous in the world. 1 in 500 is estimated to be HIV positive nationwide, but half remain undiagnosed. Testing is particularly important for pregnant women to prevent transmission of the HIV virus to their babies. Another important target group is youth aged 15 to 24, who account for the majority of new infections in Mexico.
OraQuick ADVANCE(R) Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody tests, developed by OraSure Technologies (Nasdaq: OSUR), revolutionize HIV detection by eliminating the need for a blood sample, using a simple oral swab. With results in 20 minutes, the test also eliminates the need for patients to return to the testing site, which currently lowers the probability of people knowing their HIV status when they fail to return for their results.
In July 2007, OraSure donated 2,000 test kits to EJAF who, in turn, has given the tests to Project HOPE for distribution among members of the new “Network of Solidarity Services,” composed of government and community organizations actively providing stigma-free HIV/AIDS services in the metropolitan area.
“The OraQuick donation will be used to launch a voluntary HIV testing campaign to improve detection among two key populations: at-risk youth and pregnant women,” said Courtney Guthreau, Director for Project HOPE in Mexico. “It is important to link HIV detection with the prevention of unknowingly infecting others. For example, the ability to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child is one of the greatest advances in HIV/AIDS, yet many women and even health providers remain unaware of this prevention opportunity. A campaign in 21 health centers and the National University (FESZ/UNAM) will help raise awareness and save lives.”
Anne Aslett, International Development Director of the Elton John AIDS Foundation commented: “The Foundation is grateful to OraSure for this donation. To provide better, more sensitive and effective treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS, we first need to offer them the best HIV testing and counseling. Project HOPE Mexico will use this donation to improve voluntary testing and counseling services, and provide a better pathway to quality treatment and support for people with HIV/AIDS.”
At a recent meeting in London, EJAF Chairman Sir Elton John added, “Collaboration is the key to overcoming this heartbreaking epidemic. I commend the Mexican Department of Health and Project HOPE for working together to reach more men, women and youth at risk of this disease. OraSure’s donation is a huge boost to this program and we are grateful for their contribution.”
“OraSure Technologies is proud to support Project HOPE through our donation of OraQuick ADVANCE(R) tests to the Elton John AIDS Foundation,” said Douglas A. Michels, President and CEO of OraSure Technologies. “We hope that this donation will help increase testing among at-risk populations, and enable HIV-positive people to learn their status earlier so they can access care sooner. We are committed to working in partnership with organizations like the Elton John AIDS Foundation to make the OraQuick ADVANCE(R) test available to all who need it.”
In July 2006, EJAF, Project HOPE Mexico and Project HOPE UK launched a two-year initiative to create a stigma- and discrimination-free network of HIV prevention and care services in the Mexico City metropolitan area. The Faculty of Superior Studies of the National Autonomous University (FESZ/UNAM), the government’s Nezahualcoyotl health district (outside of Mexico City) and the National Perinatal Institute (INPer) are members of the Network of Solidarity Services and key partners in the current, voluntary testing campaign.
EJAF was created in 1992, and during the past 15 years has raised over $120 million to support programs in 55 countries, focusing on prevention education, fighting prejudice and providing support for people living with HIV/AIDS. To date its funding has supported palliative and home based care services for over 1 million people living with HIV, and has funded ARV treatment programs covering 50,000 HIV+ people, including 3,000 children.
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems, with the mission of “Helping People to Help Themselves.” Project HOPE’s Mexico office opened in 1999 and currently specializes in HIV/AIDS and diabetes.
Project HOPE UK is an independent, UK-based registered charity, which works in the “international family” of Project HOPE organizations, coordinated by Project HOPE (the People to People Health Foundation) to design and deliver innovative and effective health programs in developing countries worldwide.