The challenge

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 35 million people living with HIV around the world in 2012. That same year 2.5 million people became newly infected with HIV worldwide. (1) For the most impacted region of Sub-Saharan Africa nearly 1 in every 20 adults of all people living in this region are HIV positive.

In areas hit hardest by HIV, such as in the vast region of sub-Saharan Africa, access to healthcare centres that can diagnose, treat and follow up HIV patient care is extremely limited.

Our action

As the leading provider of HIV viral load testing, Roche created the Global Access Program to expand access to quality, sustainable diagnostic testing while contributing to the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goal. The aim is that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their disease status, 90% of all those diagnosed with the HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of all those receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

Since the start of the Global Access Program in 2014, access to HIV viral load tests and early infant diagnosis have improved in 82 countries with the highest disease burden. In collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and other partners, we provide accessible and affordable pricing for reagents and consumables needed for HIV-1 testing. To train healthcare workers, Roche also offers support programmes that help build healthcare system capacity, including participation in public-private partnerships (PPPs), for instance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US. We also invest in developing countries by helping them equip laboratories with the newest technologies.

In August 2018, we formally launched our partnership with the Kenya Medical Research Institute by installing a cobas 8800 for HIV assays. Through the Global Access Program, the partnership aims to ensure that more people in Kenya have access to HIV/AIDS testing and viral load monitoring. Our PPP in Kenya and initiatives like the Roche Scientific Campus in South Africa demonstrate our ongoing commitment to Africa through capacity building and skills development, and go beyond the supply of instruments and sustainable pricing.


In 2018, the number of HIV tests run was more than four times higher than when the programme was launched.

Redefining the reach of reliable testing

Roche continues to invest in innovative products and solutions to expand access. In 2018, we launched the cobas Plasma Separation Card, a stable and easy-to-use sample collection device for HIV plasma viral load testing. The size of a credit card, it fundamentally changes the way samples are taken and processed for HIV testing. Traditionally, viral load results required blood samples to be cooled during transport to the lab. With just a small amount of blood from the fingertip, the cobas Plasma Separation Card allows for reliable quantitative testing of patients with HIV living in remote areas—even in places that experience temperatures of 45 °C and 85% humidity. The sample is protected on its journey to the lab for up to 28 days, even under such extreme conditions. As the samples can be sent by post, more viral load tests can be carried out. With up-to-date results, care can be personalised and adjusted as soon as necessary. Follow-up monitoring for people who are HIV-positive and who have achieved viral suppression helps them stay healthy


  1. The UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2012.

Tags: Society, Patients, Access to healthcare