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Trial of HIV test for babies in Africa could make a big difference
Date:10/26/2012

Today, mothers in Africa sometimes walk more than 10 miles to a clinic only to learn that conventional HIV test results for their babies are not available yet. Many never come back or even get their infants tested in the first place.

Soon residents in Maputo, Mozambique, will participate in the first clinical trial of an HIV test that was developed at Northwestern University and differs dramatically from conventional tests that are complex and slow to produce results.

The first-of-a-kind test will deliver a diagnosis in less than an hour while mother and child are still in the clinic -- and, if all goes well, could dramatically improve the rates in which infected infants are diagnosed and treated.

"Our test provides while-you-wait results, and if a child is infected, he or she will begin treatment immediately, which is critical to survival," said David Kelso, who led the development of the technology in his Northwestern lab.

Kelso is a clinical professor of biomedical engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. He also is director of McCormick's Center for Innovation in Global Health Technologies.

The test is a miniaturized, inexpensive version of the p24 HIV test and is designed specifically for use in developing countries.

One and a half million infants in Africa and Asia are born to HIV-positive mothers each year, but only a fraction of the HIV-positive infants are identified in time to start treatment. While adults can manage the disease for decades, an infant who isn't treated likely will die within a year or two.

Kelso and his research team developed the technology with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and, in 2010, he and his partners established the Northwestern Global Health Foundation with the mission of developing health solutions for infectious diseases in the developing world. The University played a very active role in crafting a model fo
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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