Point-of-care viral load testing of people living with HIV can improve viral suppression and retention in care by nearly 14 percent, according to a new study from the University of Washington, University of Oxford and University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.
Dr. Paul Drain, an assistant professor in the Department of Global Health, which bridges the University of Washington Schools of Public Health and Medicine, is first author on the study. Dr. Drain and the research team compared the impact of point-of-care testing — which allows important test results to be received by both the patient and clinician in a timely manner — to standard laboratory testing on the viral suppression of 390 HIV patients in Durban.
Ninety percent of point-of-care-tested patients achieved viral suppression after 12 months, while 76 percent of laboratory-tested patients achieved viral suppression within the same time frame.
Results of this study suggest a promising future for point-of-care viral load testing to simplify health care and improve outcomes for HIV patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. Increasing access to point-of-care testing could be a major step towards achieving UNAIDS’s 90-90-90 targets by 2020, especially in resource-limited areas such as South Africa.Friday Letter Submission