OraSure Technologies said today it will offer its OraQuick® HIV Self-Test at an “affordable” price in 50 developing countries with up to $20 million in funding over four years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Through a four-year Charitable Support Agreement, OraSure said it will sell the OraQuick HIV Self-Test in 50 countries within Africa and Asia. OraSure disclosed three of the countries—Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, where the company has provided tests for the Self-Testing in Africa (STAR) Project implemented by Population Services International (PSI). 

“We are witnessing the benefits of HIV self-testing through the use of our product by PSI under the STAR Project,” Douglas A. Michels, OraSure’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The support payments provided by the Gates Foundation will help us expand our relationship with PSI and substantially accelerate the adoption of the OraQuick HIV Self-Test in many more developing countries.”

Funding from the Gates Foundation will not exceed $20 million over the four-year term, or $6 million each year of the agreement.

Gates Foundation funding is intended to ensure access to HIV self-testing at reduced pricing to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in eligible countries that receive funding from government or public sector agencies and donors. Such NGOs, OraSure said, include the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (UK), the Global Fund, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and UNITAID, a hosted partnership of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Gates Foundation says its HIV-fighting efforts have as their goal “to accelerate the decline in HIV infection worldwide and save lives by ensuring expanded and simplified HIV treatment and improved and effective use of interventions to prevent new infections.”

“We support the development and appropriate use of novel tools that can greatly increase the number of people who know their status and who seek treatment,” the Foundation adds.

According to its website, the Gates Foundation has committed more than $3 billion in HIV grants to organizations around the world, and more than $1.6 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

OraQuick HIV Self-Test is a rapid, point-of-care test designed to enable users to detect antibodies to both HIV-1 and HIV-2 with an oral swab, with results generated in at least 20 minutes. The test is identical to OraSure’s OraQuick® In-Home HIV Test, approved by the FDA in 2012 as the first and only in-home HIV test for consumers, except that the packaging and product instructions have been tailored for use by individuals in developing countries, OraSure said.

Funding for OraSure’s HIV self-test is part of Gates Foundation‘s program-related investments (PRI) strategy, whose aims include promoting business-driven innovation, encouraging market-driven efficiencies, and attracting external capital to global health and development initiatives “that improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

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