Swiss-based healthcare company (Roche) has unveiled a new molecular HIV/AIDS testing machine “dubbed” Viral load test at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Kisumu County.
The Cobas 8800 instrument which cuts waiting time in viral load measurement has helped increase the number of HIV/AIDS tests in Kisumu County to more than a half million representing a 53percent surge in tests since the installation of the latest molecular testing instrument in 2016.
The machine can handle up to 960 samples within 8-hours.
Viral load test assesses the progression of HIV in the body as well as managing person’s HIV therapy and determines whether the patient needs to change the current treatment or not.
“Viral load measurement is vital to assess the impact of HIV treatment efforts and is recommended by WHO as the primary methodology for monitoring response to treatment,” said Dr. Maxwell Majiwa, the HIV Research Laboratory Director at KEMRI Kisumu.
Adding that the recommendation is based on research demonstrating that viral suppression is associated with decreased HIV disease progression and mortality among people living with HIV. Viral load test requires an accurate, specific, efficient and reliable diagnostic equipment, with high throughput to handle a larger volume of samples and give results within the shorter time period for timely patient management.
Dr.Majiwa further noted that the Roche Diagnostic system has since last year helped KEMRI manage over 500, 000 viral tests with the Cobas equipment handling 90percent of these.
“Roche Diagnostics has impacted over a million people since its inception, and through our partnership, we have demonstrated the importance of all stakeholders playing a part in ensuring that our mothers, sisters, and daughters have the opportunity to fight and win the war against HIV/AIDS and other related ailments”, said Dr. Majiwa.
Richard Kyania, Roche Diagnostics Kenya Manager said, “Two years ago about 51percent of people living with HIV/AIDS had suppressed viral loads and within a year the percentage had gone up to 79percent, meaning that the country is on the right track to meeting the UNAIDS 90:90:90 goals.”
“The UNAIDS goals targets by 2020, 90 percent of people living with HIV will know they have the virus, 90 percent of those who know they are infected will receive sustainable antiretroviral treatment, and 90 percent of those people on treatment to have sustainable suppression of their virus, “ said Mr. Kyania
According to Mr. Kyania, the Cobas 8800 examination already shows 79percent of the people living with HIV have suppressed Viral Loads which clearly shows that Kenya is on track to achieve the last 90 in UNAIDS.
Counties around the lake region of Nyanza do experience the highest number of HIV infections, placing Kisumu at 12percent nationally, just behind Homa Bay which stands at 15percent, according to a report by Kenya Aids Strategic framework.