NEWV TECHNOLOGY

Point of care a game-changer for HIV testing in children

Unicef Chief HIV and Aids Pierre Robert says it will significantly improve the lives of mothers and children who have been exposed to the virus.

In Summary

•It took an average of 34 days in Laikipia County from sample collection from the infant to receipt of results for clinical decision, with some results taking as long as 77 days.

•However, the new testing device will now see the test results ready in less than a day. The project is a  partnership between the County Government of Laikipia and the United Nations Childrens Fund, UNICEF Kenya.

A medic handles a specimen at the launch of the Point of Care Testing Machine at Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital.
A medic handles a specimen at the launch of the Point of Care Testing Machine at Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital.

As the world marked World Aids Day recently, Laikipia County was celebrating a milestone in diagnosing HIV in children.

The launch of the Point of Care testing will now speed up the diagnosis of HIV through testing the status and the viral load of children.

It took an average of 34 days in Laikipia County from sample collection from the infant to receipt of results for clinical decision, with some results taking as long as 77 days.

 

However, the new testing device will now see the test results ready in less than a day. The project is a  partnership between the County Government of Laikipia and the United Nations Childrens Fund, UNICEF Kenya.

This years theme Universal Health Care: Communities United for an HIV Free Generation, cited the importance of enhancing access to HIV testing services in a timely manner. The theme was derived from the global theme –Communities make the difference’ which emphasizes communities’ contribution to the HIV and AIDS response through leadership and advocacy, partnerships that ensure the response remains relevant and ensuring that no one is left behind.

Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi said the implications for such a reduced turnaround time will have a tremendous impact on the care of children in the county. “Health is a collective effort.

We appreciate the support of Unicef Kenya for working with us to change health seeking behaviour, “ Governor Muriithi said at the launch of the machine at the Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital.

UNICEF Chief HIV and Aids Pierre Robert described the Point of Care Testing Technology as a game-changing technology for HIV testing in children that will significantly improve the lives of mothers and children who have been exposed to the virus.

He noted that the point-of-care testing has four key components:  it is near the patient; results are returned at the same visit,  results facilitate immediate action and it does not require complex laboratory steps.  The test is performed outside of the central laboratory, on small and sometimes portable devices.

"Doctors, nurses and other medical staff who regularly deal with the treatment of HIV-infected infants will now have the earliest possible access to life-saving antiretroviral treatment,” he said. We believe that a generation free of HIV begins with mothers and their children,” he added.

 

According to Dr Pierre the equipment will greatly assist in reducing the number of complex steps in the blood-testing process, reduce the potential for errors, accelerate availability of critical test information to help expedite diagnosis and  help improve overall hospital efficiency.

Kenya has committed to ending Mother to Child transmission of HIV hence the concerted efforts by all stakeholders through free maternal health and strengthened investments in mentor mother programmes. More sustained focus on Preventing Mother to Child Transmissions is also  coverage is needed for the country to attain the less than 5 % Mother to Child Transmission rate by 2021.