Finger-prick enough to detect presence of HIV

June 1st, 2009 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 1 (IANS) Scientists have developed the prototype of a low-cost HIV monitoring test that requires only 30 minutes to produce results.
The CD4 rapid test, similar in design to a home pregnancy test, works with a finger-prick blood sample to measure the numbers of CD4+ T-cells in a person’s blood.

CD4+ T-cells are critical for a healthy immune system. They are slowly destroyed during the course of HIV infection.

When the numbers of CD4+ T-cells in a person’s blood decreases to a critical level, this makes them vulnerable to illness.

Health care workers rely on a CD4 count when making decisions about when HIV-positive patients should begin anti-retroviral therapy. The new test enables patients to find out within 30 minutes if they should begin therapy.

The majority of patients in the developing world do not currently have access to CD4 testing because it is expensive.

Where testing facilities exist, it is often difficult for people in rural areas to access them and it can take weeks to obtain results. Currently 33 million people globally have been diagnosed with HIV, many of them in poor countries.

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