On 29 and 30 January, the HERMETIC Steering Committee took place at ITM. ‘HERMETIC’ is a European HIV-ERA funded research project and stands for HIV European Research on Mathematical Modelling and Experimentation of HIV Testing In hidden Communities. There are four participating countries: France, Latvia, Estonia and Belgium.
In the first phase of the project, mathematical modelling was used to estimate:
- Timing between HIV acquisition to diagnosis of HIV-patients
- The ‘hidden epidemic’ (people living with HIV who remain undiagnosed)
In the second phase, each participating country developed an HIV-testing intervention to reduce the national hidden epidemic. Belgium developed an intervention to promote HIV-testing in primary care. This was done in close collaboration with relevant stakeholders, and implemented across Flanders. It is currently being evaluated using an adapted stepped wedge-design (as presented earlier by Jasna Loos during a PH exchange Seminar).
The committee meeting was attended by participants from INSERM, AIDES, WIV-ISP, Riga Stradins University, Baltic HIV Association, DIA+LOGS and ITM. The programme involved several presentations and discussions on modeling results and ongoing interventions. Time was also dedicated to the preparation of final deliverables, such as:
- A guiding framework to use mathematical modelling results when developing public health interventions
- Scientific publications
- The closing meeting
To give our international colleagues insight on outreach activities in Antwerp, we made a field visit to Ghapro, an NGO providing health care and support to sex workers. Participants enjoyed the opportunity to exchange with the service providers and outreach workers, as well as the fascinating location in the Schipperskwartier-neighbourhood.