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Babies get HIV test kits

Delays associated with conventional early infant diagnosis may be no more with the introduction of a new point of care machine dubbed Samba II.

The portable machine offers results within two hours and does not need centralised laboratories and specialist technicians to carry out the test.  Samba II integrates the whole testing process within a single instrument using ready-made disposable cartridges. The results are then received, indicated by a blue line, similar to a pregnancy test.

“These machines will help transform the lives of tens of thousands of HIV-exposed infants who have a 50 per cent chance of early death if HIV is not diagnosed within the first six weeks of life and if they are not immediately initiated on treatment,” Sarah Opendi, the state minister for Primary Health Care, said last week at Kabira Country club.

Opendi was speaking at a training workshop for health care cadres organised by Diagnostics for the Real World (DRW), the producers of this machine. She said over 40 per cent of HIV- positive infants died  before they could be initiated on treatment because of delays in receiving results.

The machine is also designed to monitor the viral load in adults on antiretroviral therapy.

“To monitor the viral load, the machine takes less than 90 minutes. Together with the health ministry, we are doing a task-shifting study to evaluate how different health cadres are able to use this technology after training,” said Lourdes Nadala, the DRW director of regulatory and scientific affairs.

The training involves 42 cadres from different regions. After the training, pilot implementation will be conducted in a few health facilities to demonstrate the ease of using Samba II within local settings.

ninsiima@observer.ug

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