New HIV testing deal for children signed

A foundation signs an agreement that gives children below eighteen months in sub-Saharan countries more access to HIV tests.
Man takes voluntary testing for HIV. (File photo)
Man takes voluntary testing for HIV. (File photo)

KIGALI - Roche and the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) have signed an agreement that would give children below eighteen months in sub-Saharan countries more access to HIV tests.

The agreement would enable Roche and CHAI to cooperate on the roll out of Early Infant Diagnosis projects in 24 countries in the region. Rwanda is one of the countries to benefit from the project.

According to the agreement signed in Johannesburg, South Africa, Roche will deliver state-of-the-art diagnostic tests for the diagnosis of HIV-exposed children at reduced prices.

Laboratory devices to test children and comprehensive products for the collection of dried blood spot samples will also be supplied.

It will also supply testing kits and products for the collection and processing of dried blood samples to beneficiary countries which will be procured by CHAI.
Dry blood spot methodology provides considerable advantages in resource-limited settings in sample taking, storage and transportation.

‘A reliable diagnosis based on fast, accurate and accessible HIV and Aids testing in infants is essential in the fight against the disease, and the agreement between CHAI and Roche would improve access to such testing in the region,’ a statement said.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) 2007 statistics, approximately 68 percent of all new infections and 90 percent of the children infected with HIV occurred in the Sub-Saharan region.

Knut Seifert, the Senior Vice President International Public Health Organisations for Roche, said in a statement released on Monday that successful therapy starts with a fast and reliable diagnosis including HIV/Aids patients in the region.

“Together with CHAI, we are happy to bring in our diagnostics expertise and products in order to make a difference for the young children and most vulnerable HIV/Aids patients,” Seifert said.

“Because they are particularly vulnerable to the disease, it is crucial to know whether children have been exposed to HIV/Aids early enough so that they can start treatment as soon as possible,” he added.

Roche is one of the world’s leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. It is the world’s biggest biotech company and an innovator of products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

CHAI has been assisting countries in implementing large-scale, integrated care and treatment programmes.

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