NOEL IYOMBWA writes
THE World’s first ever point-of-care viral load diagnostic test has received the World Health Organisation’s prequalification approval (WHO PQ).
Zambia is expected to benefit from the test as it has about one million citizens living with HIV and AIDS.
According to the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Zambia (CIRDZ) the HIV epidemic is one of the country’s major public health problems.
Current estimates from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) indicates that the adult HIV prevalence is 12.9 percent.
Ninety percent of new HIV infections in Zambia are driven by structural and biomedical factors such as multiple and concurrent sexual partnerships, mother to child transmission, low and inconsistent condom use, low levels of male circumcision, and mobility and labour migration.
The socio-economic impact of HIV and AIDS in Zambia is enormous because the people most affected are at the peak of their productive and reproductive lives.
Such a test will add new impetus to the fight against the disease.
In a statement, Abbott, a global healthcare leader, announced that m-PIMA HI1/2 VL test received the CE Mark in December last year.
“M-PIMA HIV-1/2 VL is the only truly portable molecular point-of-care test designed specifically for use in resource-limited settings such as in sub-Saharan Africa,” Damian Halloran, vice president for Infectious Disease – Emerging Markets, Rapid Diagnostics, and Abbott said.
“With WHO PQ, global funders and ministries of health can now confidently expand access to viral load testing, reaching more people who need the test, with the most compact and efficient point-of-care HIV diagnostic platform available anywhere in the world today,” the statement said.
“To provide the most effective HIV treatment and care, the WHO recommends that everyone receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) undergoes a viral load test at six months and 12 months, and annually thereafter, if the individual is stable on ART,” the statement says.
Abbott says viral load testing is the gold standard for monitoring ART treatment failure.
Unfortunately, the statement says, very few people in resource-limited settings such as select countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America have access to the necessary level of care.
It says Abbott’s m-PIMA HIV-1/2 VL is a quantitative nucleic acid amplification test for viral load measurement of HIV type 1 groups M/N and O, and HIV-2 in plasma samples.
The platform is portable so it can be brought into the most remote locations.
“It’s easy to use, deployable at the point of care and designed to measure viral load in under 70 minutes, while the patient is still present.
“This allows people to receive results during the same visit and enables immediate treatment decisions, thereby reducing the number of people lost to follow-up,” the statement says.
It says the test’s quick turnaround time is particularly valuable for monitoring the viral load of HIV-positive pregnant women and in cases of suspected HIV treatment failure.
The m-PIMA HIV-1/2 VL is part of Abbott’s comprehensive portfolio of diagnostic solutions for HIV screening, monitoring and viral load management. “From the corelab to the point of care, Abbott provides critical tools to help healthcare providers make informed treatment decisions for people living with HIV,” Abbott’s statement says.