TB program point-of-care testing was leveraged for HIV viral load and early infant diagnosis testing.
Many national testing and treatment programs have traditionally been “vertical” in nature – focused on one disease alone – and have relied on processing tests in large, centralized laboratories or on decentralized devices. But new research shows that integrating testing programs onto the same platforms, and in particular, integrated point-of-care testing, can improve patient care.
A CHAI-supported study just published in AIDS describes pilot programs at 18 health facilities in Malawi and Zimbabwe to integrate TB and HIV testing on the same near-point-of-care devices within facilities. These machines were already in use for point-of-care testing for the TB program but had extra capacity that was leveraged for HIV viral load and early infant diagnosis testing.
This study found that with integrated testing on point-of-care devices, clients receiving HIV viral load and early infant diagnosis testing had a faster clinical follow-up, translating to better patient care. This was possible without compromising TB testing services.
Integrated HIV testing is now recommended by the WHO. Moving forward, integrated testing will be crucial to support the rapid scale-up of diagnostics in pandemic settings including COVID-19.
CHAI also recently supported studies in eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa showing that near-point-of-care viral load and early infant diagnosis testing improved patient care.
This work was made possible with generous support from Unitaid.