Kenya adopts new technology to improve treatment outcomes
By Dorcus Abuya
Kenya has started implementing the early infant diagnosis point-of-care technologies that are able to relay results to the patients in a single visit and greatly improves treatment outcomes, provide better linkage to care and minimized loss to follow-ups (LTFUs).
The Innovative point-of-care (POC) nucleic acid testing (NAT) technologies can now be used for early infant HIV testing and have the potential to decentralize testing and markedly reduce the time taken for results to be available.
The adoption of these technologies comes in the wake of long delays for HIV exposed infants to get results due to procedural delays in testing and lengthy referral system.
The two technologies; Alere Q HIV1/2 Detect and Gene expert HIV 1 Qual assay which are WHO prequalified EID POC’s provide good laboratory performance and have also been verified in a country for their performance against the existing gold standard at the National HIV Reference Laboratory (NPHLS). The two POCs makes the upcoming implementation a great initiative for Kenya in trying to race towards the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by the year 2020.
HIV transmission rated
In Kenya, HIV transmission rates for infants born to HIV positive mothers remain above 5 percent despite scale up of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) interventions countrywide. Survival of these infected babies is dependent on timely diagnosis of the virus by Point of Care Testing (PCR) and immediate initiation of treatment.
“The referral system does not meet the current EID demand in Kenya and there is need to bridge this gap towards attaining the 1st 90 UNAIDS target among children which aims to diagnose 90% of all HIV-positive persons”
The current Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) cascade of care for HIV exposed infants (HEIs) involves the collection of blood samples from patients at peripheral locations, preparation of dry blood spots (DBS) and transportation of the same to centralized laboratories for the highly specialized test. With this kind of referral system, only 67% of HIV Exposed Infants (HEIs) are currently accessing DNA PCR testing.