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

t accuracy rate in identifying those infected with the virus. It detects very low levels of core protein 24, made by the virus itself. The conventional diagnostic option is a dried blood spot that is sent to a distant laboratory for testing. Results can take up to three months, long after parent and child have left the clinic, maybe never to return.

Results of the clinical trial are expected sometime next year. The study will include a comparison of the p24 HIV test with the current blood spot test and an analysis of how availability of the p24 test affects the number of infants tested and, for those infected, the number who receive treatment.

To administer the p24 test, a doctor or nurse takes a drop of an infant's blood from the heel, places it on a plastic blood-separation membrane, inserts it into a small processor about the size of an alarm clock, and receives results within 30 minutes. The clinician will see a black line on the test strip if the virus is present.

After the study in Mozambique, the health foundation plans to facilitate similar studies in nine more countries. Each country will decide for itself if it wants to use the test in its clinics after receiving the evaluation.

Once the test has proven effective, the foundation will begin selling the inexpensive test in the marketplace, filling a niche. The current cost is $15 per test but that will reduce by half as volume goes up.

Any profits the Northwestern Global Health Foundation earns will be poured back into research and low-cost manufacturing. Kelso and Palamountain hope the successful launch of the p24 test will give them credibility in the African market and allow them to move forward with other tests being developed by the foundation, including viral load and tuberculosis tests.

The foundation also plans to establish a distribution company in Africa that will manage the supply chain for the various tests and train clinicians in their use.
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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