European Laboratory Initiative on TB expands to cover HIV and viral hepatitis

To strengthen and streamline the joint response to tuberculosis (TB), HIV and viral hepatitis in the WHO European Region, the WHO-established European Laboratory Initiative on TB extended its scope to HIV and viral hepatitis. Through this development, WHO aims to address more effectively the specific needs of the Region.

The European Region is the only WHO region where HIV infections and TB/HIV coinfections are rising due to HIV late diagnosis. Rates of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) are also high, and viral hepatitis remains a major public health threat due to low diagnosis rates. Only about 30% of people living with chronic hepatitis C and less than 20% of those with chronic hepatitis B are estimated to have been diagnosed in 2015.

The expanded European Laboratory Initiative on TB, HIV and Viral Hepatitis aims to fortify TB, HIV and viral hepatitis laboratory diagnostics, testing, and monitoring capacity and strategies.

In 2019, it will support the greater integration of TB, HIV and viral hepatitis diagnostic services through the development of publications and the provision of technical guidance, and contribute to the implementation of the latest WHO guidelines on MDR-TB.

The European Laboratory Initiative also plans to contribute to the development of WHO/Europe’s policy guidance on latent TB infection.

About the European Laboratory Initiative

WHO/Europe established the European Laboratory Initiative in 2012 in collaboration with the Global Laboratory Initiative. It aims to strengthen laboratory capacities for accurate diagnosis and early detection of TB and MDR-TB in the Region.

The European Laboratory Initiative consists of partner organizations from the Region that are active and dedicated in the field of laboratory services. Its Secretariat, hosted by WHO/Europe, includes representatives of national programmes, research institutes and nongovernmental organizations.