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Testing for HIV advocated 

Timely  and accurate testing for HIV viral load in patients has been identified as solution to curbing further spread of the virus.

Collaboration between Kenya Medical Research Foundation (KEMRI), Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Roche Diagnostics has proved successful with over 500,000 people tested in Kisumu County over the last two years.

The fete was achieved after the installation of a state of the art molecular testing instrument dubbed Cobas 8800 developed by Roche diagnostics.

The instrument which is the very first of its kind in Kenya was installed through a public private partnership between Kenya Medical Research Foundation (KEMRI), Roche Diagnostics, Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

According to KEMRI Laboratory Director, Dr. Maxwell  Majiwa the instrument has the capacity to produce results of up to 3,000 specimens on a 24 hours shift.

This, he said has given impetus to the fight against HIV/Aids since viral load results are released within ten days after receiving samples at the laboratory.

“With the old equipment it could take us up to a month to release the results but with cobas 8800 we are able to get timely results and relay the same to the respective health facilities through the integrated laboratory system,” he said.

Timely viral load results, he said was key in the fight against HIV/Aids prevalence since doctors are able to administer anti-retroviral drugs to patients in good time to ensure that the virus is suppressed.

He said Kisumu, which is one of the HIV/Aids high burden counties, was on the right track in achieving the UNAIDS 90:90:90 goals that aims to test 90 per cent of the world’s population, put 90 percent of the infected on treatment and suppress the virus in 90 percent of people living with HIV by the year 2030.

The  Roche Diagnostics Country Representative, Richard  Kyania said the tests have impacted positively, adding, “Two years ago about 51 per cent of people living with HIV?AIDS had suppressed viral loads but within a year the number has gone up to 71 per cent meaning that the country is on the right track to meeting the UNAIDS 90:90:90 goals,” he said.

Kyania who visited the facility at KEMRI in Kisumu disclosed that another facility shall be installed in Nairobi soon to ensure faster turnaround times for tests so that patients receive optimal care within a prescribed period.

The  Kisumu County Deputy Governor, Dr. Mathews  Owili said through timely release of results, the county has achieved 81 per cent viral suppression.

The indicator, he said was positive, adding that the county government has established comprehensive care centers across the country to enhance penetration of anti-retroviral therapy.

By  Chris  Mahandara

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