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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versión On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versión impresa ISSN 0256-9574


VAN TURHA, L et al. Point-of-care CD4+ technology implementation in Free State, South Africa, was associated with improved patient health outcomes. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2020, vol.110, n.2, pp.126-131. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND. Point-of-care (POC) CD4+ technologies have the potential to increase patient access to treatment and care through rapid testing and result delivery at or close to where patients seek care. South African (SA) guidelines suggest the use of CD4+ testing to prioritise patients most in need of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and to support identification of patients with advanced HIV disease and opportunistic management of patients on ART. Understanding the patient impact of implementing POC CD4+ testing in the intended setting and operated by lower cadres of healthcare worker or non-professional healthcare facility staff will provide valuable insight into the appropriate use and placement of POC CD4+ technologies throughout SA.OBJECTIVES. To determine the patient impact (turnaround time of tests, loss to follow-up, and proportions of eligible patients proceeding to the next steps in the testing and treatment cascade) of implementing POC CD4+ testing technologies compared with conventional laboratory-based CD4+ testing.METHODS. This retrospective cohort study included all HIV-positive adults from 30 healthcare facilities in Free State Province, SA. Healthcare facilities were placed into two groups (POC and laboratory referral) using a stratified randomisation technique based on the presence of a POC CD4+ technology and minimal ART volumes. Patients who received a CD4+ test prior to ART initiation between September 2012 and September 2014 were included. Data were collected from patient charts and the POC devices.RESULTS. For new patients, the average time from HIV diagnosis and CD4+ testing was reduced from 7.6 days in the laboratory referral group to 4.5 days in the POC group, a decrease of almost 60%. Additionally, 59.6% of patients in the POC group received their HIV diagnosis and CD4+ test result on the same day, compared with 37.5% in the laboratory referral group (risk ratio (RR) 1.49; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01 - 2.18). Fewer patients were lost between HIV diagnosis and CD4+ testing (2.7% v. 8.6%) (RR 0.02; 95% CI 0.05 - 0.78) in the POC group. The average test error rate across the study time period was 8.4%; however, the error rate remained <5% for the final 5 months of the study.CONCLUSIONS. Introduction of the Alere Pima POC CD4+ technology in the Free State, operated by nurses and lay counsellors, was associated with positive patient outcomes across all parameters analysed. While this study highlighted an effective conventional laboratory network, a full costing and affordability analysis coupled with patient impact and access data from this study will provide further insight into the potential deployment strategies of POC CD4+ technologies in SA.

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